Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Secret Scripture (Sebastian Barry) - Book Review

The Secret ScriptureThe Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cover: Lame and weird.
Title: Where'd that really come from?
Story: ULTRA-lame, and the "twist" made me roll my eyes so hard they almost got stuck.
Writing style: Unbelievably gorgeous. Oh my goodness. SO many quotes to save, and thanks to Goodreads for making that easy!
Good stuff: The care and sympathy the doctor and Roseanne had for each other was so gentle and lovely to read about and observe. The descriptions of Ireland made me drool. Someone please take me there asap. Roseanne's loyalty and honor for her father was just so sweet.
Bad stuff: Some strong language, a one-night stand, an attempted rape, and some violence.

Basically I wanted to read this before I saw the movie (which I hear is equally as bad), so I accomplished my goal, but wasn't super excited about it.

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How Not to Die (Michael Greger) - Book Review

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse DiseaseHow Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, this was so enlightening, inspiring, hopeful, down-to-earth, and actually quite fun! Dr. Greger has a great sense of humor, as well as a wonderful way of putting all the over-your-head medical speak in simple, understandable terms so nothing feels out-of-reach.

Things you should know going into this book:
- He is not paid to promote anything. Even his website (NutritionFacts.org) is 100% free. This is a labor of love for him. He saw his grandmother cured on a plant-based diet and was inspired to help others experience the same.
- The book does however, recommend completely dropping meat, eggs, and dairy from one's diet. Not because being vegan or vegetarian is trendy, but because the science just shows it's healthier.
- He is pro-vaccine, anti-kombucha. lol
- Do NOT be intimidated by the size of this book! I picked it up from the library hold shelf and was like, "Should I even try to get through this?? It looks like a textbook!" GOOD NEWS! The last third is entirely notes that you probably wouldn't even read, so that brings the entire book down to a readable amount (at least for me).
- The layout is great, and would actually almost work better as a reference book than a read-straight-through. The first half discusses the top 15 ways people die in America and how a plant-based diet can cure them, and the second half talks about what exactly the PB diet looks like. Think specifics. (Flaxseeds, what kinds of beans count, what kinds of fruit, how to include everything on a daily basis, etc.)
- It really is a fun read! He's super funny and I LOLed lots. Didn't expect that from a book called How Not to Die.

Definitely need a copy for my personal library, as this will be a book I will reference a lot in the future. It really gave me hope that, while I might not go totally PB, a majorly cleaned-up diet could do wonders to reverse damage that has already been and is being done, and prevent future issues from arising.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Book Review - My Plea for the Old Sword (Ian Paisley)

My Plea for the Old SwordMy Plea for the Old Sword by Ian Paisley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Let me say first that I am 100% a KJV-only person. But unlike Mr. Paisley, I don't beat people over the head with it. This book, with its ridiculous ALL CAPS and BOLD SENTENCES and random italics felt more like being forced to chug 2 gallons of water (something that's good for me) in a matter of 5 minutes (feeling quite unpleasantly like drowning).

Now, hopefully I am deeper than just letting the things above scare me away from the actual facts and message the author is sharing. I did read the entire book, and I did try to soak up what info he shared, but it was really very hard to fully pay attention when his haughty, over-one's-head vocabulary clogged everything up. It just screamed "OBVIOUSLY THIS IS THE TRUTH AND YOU ALL ARE DUMMIES!!!!"

Did I get anything out of this? Yes. In addition to a few beautiful, majestic quotes from others that have written on this subject, I also enjoyed the two chapters that described the group of men that carefully translated the KJV we have today, and the techniques those men used. (This was by far the most interesting thing I've read pertaining to the translation issue.) Why was it important to them to keep the original "thee"s and "thy"s? How did they decide which word to use when multiple ones could work?

A very important topic that is dealt with in the penultimate chapter is the verbal preservation of the Scriptures. If one believes in Divine Revelation and Divine Inspiration, but no Divine Preservation, it will be no wonder that modern corrupt versions are born, because how could anyone be proud and foolish enough to claim their translation is the real deal? One's version is just as good as anyone else's. It is imperative to understand and believe that God in His sovereignty and care for His followers in all ages provided a text/translation/version that accurately captures and preserves His original message.

All in all, I'd be thankful to find a different book on the topic, but this was not entirely useless and annoying, and considering it is a very short read, it wouldn't hurt to add it to your list of KJV defenses.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Instruction, and advice, and commands will profit little, unless they are backed up by the pattern of your own life. Your children will never believe you are in earnest, and really wish them to obey you, so long as your actions contradict your counsel. Archbishop Tillotson made a wise remark when he said, 'To give children good instruction, and a bad example, is but beckoning to them with the head to show them the way to heaven, while we take them by the hand and lead them in the way to hell.'

J. C. Ryle

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Beguiled (Thomas Cullinan) - Book Review

The BeguiledThe Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At first I didn't like the many different POVs because I struggled to keep everybody straight. (Martha, Harriet, Mattie, Alice, Emily, Amelia, Edwina, and Marie all share their perspectives! Whew!) But eventually when I had everyone figured out, I really enjoyed getting to see everything through everyone's eyes. This book was insanely witty and I laughed out loud several times. I can't say enough about how well-written this was. Just brilliant.

However, even though nothing was graphically portrayed or actually described in detail for the reader, this story was more trashy than I expected, even with incest in one of the character's past. That along with some language brings this down to 3 stars from me.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

I Will Always Write Back (Caitlin Alifirenka) - Book Review

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two LivesI Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even for someone such as myself who reads a ridiculous amount of books a year, it is rare to read one that changes your life, but this book did just that. I am looking at everything through different eyes because of this true story.

Caitlin and Martin were put together as pen pals as a school assignment, and ended up being the only kids to continue to faithfully write each other. Martin's promise to always write back was harder to keep than anyone knew, because his family was so poor that even postage for his next letter had to be worked for for weeks. Once Caitlin discovered just how poor Martin and his family were, it started her on a journey to make a difference in the lives of her best friend, his family, and his village.

What absolutely blew me away here was the stark contrast between Martin's simple life of poverty (and yet contentment!) and Caitlin's life of American wealth, so easily taken for granted. (I couldn't help but compare it to my own.) Many, many times while reading this I was moved to tears of shame when I remember how often I complain about so many things, and long for so many better things, when I should be on my knees thanking God for the abundance of riches I enjoy every single day. I have never missed a meal. I have never slept on a wet, muddy floor. I have never worried about not getting the education I need to succeed in life. I have never not had dressers and a closet overflowing with clothes I hardy ever wear. The list goes on.

This book was like the missions trip I never had. It opened my eyes so much and has gotten me back into the "1000 Gifts" mentality. All is grace. Give thanks always. We are blessed with so much and need to be looking for opportunities to share the wealth we are given with others.

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Pleasing People (Lou Priolo) - Book Review

Pleasing People: How not to be an Pleasing People: How not to be an "approval junkie" by Lou Priolo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was all over the place with this book. The first half was drier than dry. Everything he was saying was scriptural, but it felt super long and textbookish. But the second half I absolutely loved, and got a few memorable gems out of, so I'm leaving this one with 3 stars.

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Paper Hearts (Meg Wiviott) - Book Review

Paper HeartsPaper Hearts by Meg Wiviott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Written entirely in various poetic forms, this book details life in Auschwitz from two teenage girls' points of view. The vocabulary is quite simple. Nothing graphic is mentioned at all. But the horror is still completely palpable. The courage and desperation just come off the page. The way Meg wrote this made it so easy (maybe too easy?) to picture it as if I were there.

I loved how clear the personalities were. Fania was softer, the "good girl," more prone to quietly obey not just with her body but in her mind. Zlatka was always simmering, always scheming, keeping her thoughts in constant rebellion so as to stay alive. The friendship between the two very opposite girls proved to be an essential one. The one helped the other stay safe, stay hoping, and to stay alive.

To make it all better, this is based on a true occurrence, so that makes this one of my favorite Holocaust novels to date.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Lamplighter (Maria Susanna Cummins) - Book Review

The Lamplighter (Rare Collector's Series)The Lamplighter by Maria Susanna Cummins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Usually I have already decided how many stars I'm going to give a novel by the time I'm halfway through it. This earned a solid 3 stars in my head, because even though it was kind of going nowhere, I liked the characters and especially loved the old English.

But then I reached the last 10 chapters or so, and...PLOT TWIST. And then ANOTHER TWIST. And TWIST SOME MORE! Until finally I finished the book and was left with a feeling of awe, as well as something resembling how I feel after riding Raging Bull at Great America. I was also smiling and stroking the cover; something that I catch myself doing after an especially satisfying read.

So, yes. This was one of the very first books I ever added to my to-read shelf here on Goodreads, and the 3 stars turned into 5 stars because of the marvelous, masterfully-sculpted ending. Read it!

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Monday, August 28, 2017

the martial view

"It has become, in my view, a bit too trendy to regard the acceptance of death as something tantamount to intrinsic dignity. Of course I agree with he preacher of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to love and a time to die - and when my skein runs out I hope to face the end calmly and in my own way. For most situations, however, I prefer the more martial view that death is the ultimate enemy - and I find nothing reproachable in those who rage mightily against the dying of the light."

- Stephen Jay Gould

Friday, August 25, 2017

Through Gates of Splendor (Elisabeth Elliot) - Book Review

Through Gates of SplendorThrough Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My goodness. This is one of those books for which writing a review seems disrespectful. I will say that my favorite portions of this were the quotes from Jim's diary, as well as Betty's sharing of how the widows faced the tragedy with peace and confidence. Because of how the mothers viewed what happened - in truth and unwavering faith, their children were raised knowing it was a sacrifice for God, and they would see their fathers again. It was worth it. So moving, convicting, and emotional. A must-read for any Christian.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mary Jones and Her Bible (Mary Ropes) - Book Review

Mary Jones and Her Bible (Rare Collector Series)Mary Jones and Her Bible by Mary Emily Ropes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The thing I struggle with with almost all Lamplighter stories is that everyone in them is perfect. Paragraph upon paragraph expounds on the sweetness of character, the gentleness of spirit, the willingness of service, and so on and so forth, of the main persons of the story. Someday when I read these aloud to my children, I will appreciate that their moldable minds have such exemplary people to hear about, but as a somewhat cynical and more experienced Christian adult, I know everyone struggles at some point with SOMETHING, so these stories just feel unrealistic.

All that being said, I really did like this little story of the young Welsh girl who walked 50 miles roundtrip simply to purchase a Bible for her very own. This is a true story, and Mary Jones was unknowingly the one to begin the huge movement to bring Bibles to people far and wide, of various nations, denominations, and status. This short historical narrative was very inspiring, as well as convicting. Do I treasure my Bible as much as Mary Jones did? Am I storing it in my heart?

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Scarlet Moon (Debbie Viguie) - Book Review

Scarlet Moon: A Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood (Once Upon A Time, #5)Scarlet Moon: A Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood by Debbie ViguiƩ
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The writing was poor, the romance unbelievable, and frankly, it was just too gory for me. "She tasted so sweet." Really? Just yuck.

I think after having my mind blown in the first season of the Once Upon a Time TV show (where Red is ALSO THE WOLF !!!!!!!!) I keep hoping for some originality with this fairytale, but it isn't to be here. The wolf is the love interest and, as others before me have said, it just isn't cool.

Most of the books in this series I just love, but this goes in the pile of nopes.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie) - Book Review

Murder On the Orient ExpressMurder On the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Predictable much? I'd give this 2 stars but 1) I just love the sarcastic, dry humor, and 2) it's sacrilegious to give Christie 2 stars. Ready for the movie now!

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Worldliness (C. J. Mahaney) - Book Review

Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen WorldWorldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World by C.J. Mahaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a surprisingly good read. This book contains six chapters written by five different pastors. Each chapter tackles the subject of worldliness in these different areas: media, possessions, music, and dress. While I didn't agree with the end stance in the chapter on music, I found all the subjects very strong in their encouragement to aim higher. To do all things, own all things, listen to all things, wear all things, to the glory of God. There is no corner of our lives that God does not care about and does not have a principle for.

By far my favorite thing about this book was the Modesty Heart Check and the Wedding Day Modesty appendices in the back. It is quite rare to hear specifics on modesty these days without a legalistic attitude behind them, or the other extreme of not enough. The lists given (compiled by the women in these pastors' lives) were specific but only to the point of helping brothers not to struggle. They were written by women who themselves face the struggle of dressing beautifully but without compromising biblical principles of modesty. I really appreciated the effort and care put into this part of the book.

Overall, definitely a good read for anyone! It's a short read, too, making it a nice addition to morning devotions.

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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.