Thursday, August 17, 2017

Vienna Prelude (Brock and Bodie Thoene) - Book Review

Vienna Prelude (Zion Covenant, #1)Vienna Prelude by Bodie Thoene
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So I don't know if this was simply the right book at the wrong time or what, but I found myself groaning every evening when it was reading hour because I just could not get into this. It didn't move quickly, and the history was very over my head. History is not my fave so the long, dry paragraphs of details didn't do anything for me.

Also, the only character I cared for in the entire book was Rudy. The others are just way too selfish, fickle, and cliche. Also, the Christianity that was barely there felt forced, so I didn't really connect with it on that end, either.

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The Practice of the Presence of God (Brother Lawrence) - Book Review

The Practice of the Presence of God (Paraclete Essentials)The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is by far the most Catholic book I've ever read. I was surprised to discover that, apart from one chapter, the book is not written by Brother Lawrence, but rather it is a compilation of letters and conversations collected by a friend of his, who wanted Brother Lawrence's life and service to be remembered after his death.

While I found the idea of constant prayer and moment-by-moment submission to the will of God to be motivating and inspirational (albeit a little mystical perhaps), I mourned the obvious lack of salvation understanding on Brother Lawrence's part. Here was a man who for years endured much suffering and humble labor out of pure love and adoration for God, but believed in penance and purgatory, refused to trouble himself over heaven or hell, and would do such unnecessary things as purposely lying on his infected side so he'd be in more pain for God. He was lacking doctrinal truths that would have freed him from many stresses, both physical and spiritual.

While I do believe in rare cases Catholics can be saved and bound for Heaven, from what I read in this short book, I was not convinced Brother Lawrence was one of them. His chapter called "Spiritual Maxims" was very sweet and helpful, but on the whole I could not in good conscience recommend this book to anyone.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

We're Back!

These recent days have been happy and busy ones, as we officially moved back into our house Saturday night! I am busy cleaning, organizing, shopping, and moving things over from my family's house, finally, but when I'm finished, I'm going to do a before/after post on here. Also, we're getting another family photoshoot done Saturday so I'll try to post some of those as well. :)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Old Yeller (Fred Gipson) - book review

Old YellerOld Yeller by Fred Gipson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Boy, reading this bittersweet story for the first time brought back so many childhood memories of watching the endearing Disney film over and over and over, and crying every time! As I read this, I couldn't help but think how excellently cast everyone was. I have to say this is one case where the book and the film are equally good! I loved reading this from Travis's point of view. It's a rare thing these days for teen boys to aspire to manhood, and it was great to read the old-fashioned country story of a boy taking care of his family while his pa is away. Loved this so much!

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Being Mortal (Atul Gawande) - book review

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the EndBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tears on my cheeks have not yet dried as I type this. I did not have many expectations going into this book, but still, its making me cry was certainly unexpected. I'm crying for many reasons.

- This book was written so beautifully, tastefully, carefully, sacredly. Atul held a painful subject in his hands and gently made it graceful.
- I am so personally drawn to ministry to the elderly and dying, and this book made me even more eager to search out ways to be of help.
- My grandma would have loved this. Many of the scenarios presented throughout the book were ones we went through with my grandma, and I couldn't help but admit it hit close to home. She always hated the thought of losing her independence, of being put in a home, of hanging out with the "old ladies," of, frankly, dying. She always wanted to volunteer to make those on their way out feel that they have a friend. I remember her telling me, "People always celebrate and make a big to-do about a baby entering the world. But where are the people helping people leave it?" As I said, she would have heartily agreed with Atul's thoughts, and I cry because if only I had discovered this book sooner. :(

This might not look like your cup of tea, but I do feel like everyone should read it. We all will die someday, and perhaps already know someone dying, and this book will give you a good starting place to encourage and prepare for the final days and decisions. I need a copy of this on my shelf. Definitely want to read again.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Holy Children

"Let those parents that desire Holy Children learn to make them possessors of Heaven and Earth betimes. To remove silly objects from before them, to magnify nothing but what is great indeed, and to talk of God to them, and of His works and ways before they can either speak or go."

- Traherne

Saturday, June 10, 2017

a human wish

"'You were merely wishing for the end of pain,' the monster said. 'Your own pain. An end to how it isolated you. It is the most human wish of all.'"

- A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Thursday, June 8, 2017


"Wings are an illusive fallacy. Some may possess them, but they are not very visible, and as for me, there isn't the least sign of a feather. Don't imagine that by crossing the sea and landing on a foreign shore and learning a foreign lingo you 'burst the bonds of outer sin and hatch yourself a cherubim.'"

"We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could. I don't wonder apostolic miracles have died. Apostolic living certainly has."

"Satan is so much more in earnest than we are -- he buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost."

- Amy Carmichael, quoted from A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot

Friday, May 26, 2017

My sweetheart

from New Morning Mercies

"The delusional assessment of independent strength locks you out of the place where true strength is found. The hopelessness of weakness is the only door to the hope of real strength. Grace exposes how deep your need really is, then takes you by the hand to where lasting strength can be found. So you can boast in what most people fear because you have been and are being saved by grace."

- Paul David Tripp

Thursday, May 25, 2017


"Do you think, Madame, that in heaven we will really get to see God face-to-face?"
"We might."
"What if you're blind?"
"I'd expect that if God wants us to see something, we'll see it."
"Uncle Etienne says heaven is like a blanket babies cling to. He says people have flown airplanes ten kilometers above the earth and found no kingdoms there. No gates, no angels. Don't you ever get tired of believing, Madame? Don't you ever want proof?"
Madame Manec rests a hand on Marie-Laure's forehead. The thick hand that first reminded her of a gardener's or a geologist's. "You must never stop believing. That's the most important thing."

- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Thursday, March 30, 2017

untitled, except that is a title

I am up late crying. Never mind why. I am the only one awake in the house and it is dark and rainy, and I don't know what it is that I should write; only that I must. (It's therapeutic for me.) So here's my summary of today for no reason.

Today was good. I love days of full rain. Peter watched a movie first thing this morning while I ran around cleaning for the day of teaching in the living room. I planned each of the eight lessons, then got Peter into new clothes. I bought him a pair of jeans from ThredUp, and by some magic, they look cool and actually fit.

Even though I only teach a few hours each week, Thursdays are my longest stretch, and I miss being able to have Peter run up to show me things or say hi. So Thursday mornings I try to intentionally play and talk with him before handing him over to Grandma. He's been into giving random, free hugs and kisses lately, so our time of reading and playing ball on the basement floor was especially sweet.

Teaching went well today. Sometimes I end the day wondering why/how I even got into this because I feel I can't explain anything clearly, but today I felt like communication was good and progress was made.

Even though our dinner plan got messed up, it was still fun because Peter and I ran to Meijer with Dad, and that's ALWAYS interesting. We had everything from discounted salami to dry-erase markers in the cart. I ate two Milano cookies on the way home (fail). Dad put the pizza in the oven while I disastrously played through my favorite sacred piano arrangement at fortissimo. My goodness, is piano playing a stress-reliever for me! And playing the piano while it's raining outside is basically my favorite thing in the world to do.

Dad left for a quote so it was just Peter and me at home. I took him and our dinner upstairs and we finished watching Despicable Me and I popped in The Phantom Menace. (Peter kept asking for BB-8, and I told him no less than 5 times that this wasn't the one!) Chris got home and he and Peter wrestled like crazy people in the basement. I knocked out several more chapters of my current read, The Neverending Story, while Chris got Peter sleeping.

And here I am. Sunk a bit too deep in thoughts and memories and needing diversion before my already-red eyes and nose get redder still. Read any good poems lately? My best and dearest poem collection is packed away in one of those totes somewhere, and I miss it. All the people that I used to talk poetry with are no longer in my life, and I count that a great loss. Poetry is, in all seriousness, like a salve to me.

Anyway, I'm off to see what I can watch for free on Amazon Prime. Thankfully I can sleep in tomorrow.

EDIT: So I signed up for a free trial of Hulu because I didn't like anything I was seeing on Amazon. Ended up watching the pilot of a new show I've been interested in and bawled my eyes out at the ending. THIS IS MADNESS. lol

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


the grey
lost its hold
on the sun,
and the ball of flame
slipped boldly,
out of its chain of cloud
and stepped


the sea of dark
to light the sky
and paint in pink,
purple, fire.

it looked
ever so much
like hope.
like spring
making its promises
known to the world
thru shards of broken,
beautiful light.

and the door
of my heart


with words calm and still:
"come in,
come in,
come in!"

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 // the year of distractions

It's that time of year again. I'm sitting here with a finished planner and a big list of things that happened this past year, and it's time to blog. I am not ashamed of saying I am unspeakably happy 2016 is over. It was without question the hardest and worst year of my life. I know there are those that are making us all feel guilty about having a bad taste left in our mouths once the year ended, but this is not a time of flowers and butterflies for me. My heart was utterly broken this year, from January till December, and I will not let that be invalidated by anyone. If you had a great year of positive happenings and joyful events and accomplished goals, yay. I am truly happy for you. If you had an awful year of disappointments, unfulfilled expectations, and lost people/relationships, I feel you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Yes, we all have things we take for granted and should be thankful for always, and no, our lives are not as miserable as some others, but that does not lessen the burden of daily hurt. It does not take away the tears that flow just as steadily from small sorrows as those caused by life-altering sadness. God sees all brokenness, big and small. It all is seen by Him.

Okay. With that said, I want to share my year with you. Instead of facing my sadness and depression head-on like I should have, and delving deep into Scripture for my comfort, I did the Jonah thing and ran away from my thoughts via multiple distractions. Just being real right now. I bought tickets to everything. I read everything. I watched everything. So you'll see a lot of stuff here and probably think, "Wow. That girl had so much fun." And I did. But it was temporary, and with a faulty motive. One of my goals for this new year is to not shirk from my thoughts. If I have an issue, I need to deal with it in a calm and biblical way. It's so easy to stare at various screens to "escape." That only delays healing and growth. So here we go. This is gonna be long. ;)

January - My grandma Pat died on the 3rd, and I had no clue how much that would affect me. I was a mess for several months. I miss her so much! That month I also started my Invisalign journey. My teeth had shifted since getting my braces off, so this was the next step to getting back to where I was.
February - My brother's gf Jordan and I got to meet Victoria Aveyard, the author of the Red Queen series. We had never been to a book signing before, so that was such a cool experience! Peter suffered through his very first haircut. Our family also enjoyed a quick trip to Gulf Shores, AL for Valentine's Day.

  March - Peter enjoyed his first Easter egg hunt at a beautiful park. We enjoyed having the whole family together for the day. Later in the month, Jordan and I went to another book signing, this time getting to meet the lovely Lauren Conrad!  

 April - This was the month for recitals. I had a small recital for my students, and later in the month, got to play in my sister Charlotte's grad recital. I was thankful to get to have a part in her special day! I was also super excited to finally purchase the violin I've been renting for years and years, and now I can officially call it mine!

May - My birthday was epic this year. Jordan and I went to BookCon in Chicago. We got there very early and sat in lines for hours, but it paid off because we met all the authors on our list and still had time to look around at all the booths! We met the Property Brothers, Sabaa Tahir, and James Dashner. We also got to listen to an awesome panel by Lauren Oliver, Veronica Roth, Sabaa Tahir, and Melissa de la Cruz. When we got home, Mike and Jordan threw me a Beauty and the Beast themed party! Everything was just beautiful, and we got to watch the movie afterwards with Charlotte's friends Jaclyn and Jacob. That month as well, God brought me some much-needed fellowship with my friends Cathy and Kelly. We get together once a month now, and our time together is so dear to me. At the end of the month, I went to yet another book signing, where I got to meet Daymond John of Shark Tank fame. 

June - Mike, Jordan, Chris, and I enjoyed a full day at Six Flags, where the lines weren't nearly as bad as we expected!
July - Our family once again went up to my aunt and uncle's cabin in Hayward, WI for a quick trip. Peter had a blast! Chris and I went downtown and watched Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark while the amazing Chicago Symphony Orchestra played the score live. Very cool. Charlotte, Mom, our friend Kathy, and I enjoyed watching a live performance of Guys and Dolls. Oh my word, that was fun! I just discovered that musical this year and it's one of my faves.

 August - Charlotte and I met up with friends to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens outside! I need one of those inflatable screens. Seriously. I also got to hear Sarah McLachlan and Josh Groban live in concert! That was just amazing. I couldn't believe I was able to go. I also played in the most fun ensemble ever for church. We had 26 violin, viola, and cello players playing "Holy, Holy, Holy." It was simply wonderful.
September - Chris and I celebrated his birthday and our fourth anniversary by staying overnight in a cabin at Starved Rock. It was a fast but fun little getaway. Charlotte, her bf Jacob, Chris, and I went to the concert of a lifetime: Piano Guys! It was probably the best concert I've ever been to. They were so funny and wonderful, and of course the music was spectacular. We would go again in a heartbeat! We finished out the month by flying to Sanibel, FL with my bro- and sis-in-law, Todd and Anna, and their little guy, Keith. We both had honeymooned there, so it was SO special to go back together and hit all our favorite beaches and restaurants!

October - We finally took Peter to the Shedd Aquarium for the first time. He wasn't as impressed as he was with the zoo, but we still had a good time. ;)
November - I voted for the first time ever. It felt weird. Peter turned 2 on the 16th, and my heart is sad that my "little baby" doesn't look like a little baby anymore! For Thanksgiving, we drove up to Wisconsin to spend the holiday with my mom's step-brother, Dennis. That was random but very fun and nice. 
December - I started training for a 5K in July, and on the 3rd of December, I ran my first 5K! Chris ran with me 'cause he's cool like that. It felt absolutely amazing to reach my goal. I also got to go with some friends to see The Phantom of the Opera performed live in downtown Chicago. For Christmas, we drove to South Dakota for a big Marsceau reunion. It was so fun to see the grandparents with all 15 of the grandkids!

I stayed pretty busy music-wise again this year. I played a total of 5 concerts, 2 recitals, and 1 gig. I played with a chamber orchestra at the annual state homeschool convention. I sang in our church's choir cantata for Christmas. It was my first time singing a solo in church too so that was a big deal for my scaredy-cat self! I taught several students this year, and starting next week I'll be teaching 15. (Three are Skype students, and two are piano!) 

I watched a lot of movies, both new and old. VidAngel was addicting. I'm so sad they're down! Jordan got me hooked on this site called Letterboxd. (It's basically the Goodreads of the movie world.) You can see my profile here

I also read an insane amount of books. On Goodreads, my reading goal was 30 books. I ended up reading 46. (!!!!) If you're interested in seeing what they were and how I liked them, you can check them out here

So yeah. The past year was full and crazy. We are still living in my family's house, as the addition project is still going on. That was one of the "hard things" of the year. ;) I'm definitely having to work on patience and a positive attitude when it comes to getting back into our house. Hey, it'll make it that much sweeter when we finally DO get back in there, right?? I can't wait.

My goals for 2017 are working on positive self-talk, reading my Bible every day, learning how to make lip balm, losing weight, running a 10K, and making healthy eating a lifestyle, not a temporary diet. Veronica Roth said something that has stuck with me: "2017 will be different. Not because it is inevitable. Because we say so." I don't want to sit back and complain about what I don't have or how I want things to be. I want to get up, roll up my sleeves, and work to make myself and my life better. I want to be present, and not miss a single moment of joy that God has tucked into the little cracks of daily life. Each day is a gift. I intend to open it and be thankful. :)

P.S. - Formatting? What's that? lol Sorry about the sloppy construction of this post. I have no clue how to do anything cool.