Before I Turn Fifty

I turned 49 today.  Not a bad day at all, and I’m totally not bothered by my age.  I’m alive.  I’m in good health.  I have a job that I was born to do, a great husband, a wonderful family, dear friends far and near, a slightly messy house, and 3 perfect cats.  When people talk about living the dream, I kind of am.  And I’m so thankful to God.

But next year is kind of a milestone, and I want to mark it with a series of accomplishments and the establishment of good habits that I have been negligent about in the past.  Some will be small, and many of them not particularly noteworthy, but they will be mine.  So friends, family, loved ones, random people who might read my blog, I’m making myself accountable to you.  I appreciate any encouragement you can give and will be receptive to any (metaphorical!) kicks in the butt I might need.

I’ve got a plan for how I will track these things, but I haven’t got it set up yet.  When I do, I’ll let you know.

Oh, and I’ll post the list tomorrow.

Wish me luck.


Book review: Grace Filled Marriage

Early this year (but not early enough for it to count as a resolution or anything), I decided that 2013 would be my year of grace.  I decided to purposely extend grace to others, regardless of whether I knew them, or whether we had had a bad relationship or encounter in the past, or even if I was in an everyday relationship with them.  Let me tell you – that part about extending grace in your everyday life is hard.  My husband, who is a good man, is still human (or so I’ve been led to believe), and, as such, is entirely capable of driving me out of my mind.  Sometimes, I grit my teeth when I talk to him because I am furious  or impatient and that doesn’t really make him happy or feel warmly towards me.  (Wonder why that is?)  Also, I work in public service in a library (perhaps you guessed that from my blog name).  People ask the same questions over and over (different people, but still…).  The printers stop working.  The book that was supposed to be on the shelf isn’t.  There is someone who is trying to fill out an online application and they have never used a computer before and on top of that, the mouse doesn’t work properly so even if they are trying their hardest, it is difficult to be patient and kind.  (See, this grace stuff is hard!)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was given an opportunity to review a pre-pub copy of Tim (and Darcy) Kimmel’s Grace Filled Marriage.  It was awesome (you can see my review on Amazon here).  (Yes, I know it was already published, but this is my year of grace, not necessarily promptness, although I am working on that as well and hope that the nice folks at Worthy Publishing will extend some grace and let me review more of their pre-pub books.)

So, back to the review:  Really good book.  Really well written.  Practical.  And marriage is good, even when it isn’t perfect.  For all its (and our) flaws, it contributes to financial stability on a personal level and to the greater economic good.  It is a place of stability for children.  It creates safety nets that allow adults to explore careers and further their education.  So if you are in a marriage, even if you are not a believer, don’t you want to be in the best marriage possible?

Grace Filled Marriage gives you practical tools to extend grace to your spouse.  Even if they never read the book.  Even if they don’t get it.  Even if they never extend grace to you.

In practicing grace this year (and goodness gracious, I fail at this attempt in some way just about every day!), I’ve learned what a powerful force grace is.  No one can force you to offer something that you are extending freely.  You have the power to choose to be kind.  You have the power to choose to forgive.  You have the power to choose to let go of hurt and grudges.  You can make the choice to rejoice in the kindness you show.  Grace is a gentle assault; one that persuades your opponent to lay down their weapons because they need not fear being hurt.

As I said in my Amazon review, every married believer should have this book on their nightstand.  I stand by that, but amend it to say that if they can afford it, they should buy 2 copies, one for each side of the bed (and a third to go in the bathroom, if that is where they read).  Also, this is a great wedding gift, even for people who aren’t believers.  Even if you think they don’t have a snowball’s chance.

Book review: 7: an experimental mutiny against excess

Jen Hatmaker convinces her family and her closest friends to “pare down to what is necessary, what is noble.”  She undertook 7 months of fasting, with one fast per month.

Here was her order of fasting (and, incidentally, the order of the chapters):

  • Food
  • Clothes
  • Possessions
  • Media
  • Waste
  • Spending
  • Stress

She has small children, so they did not participate in the fasts of food or clothing.  As she said, “Some months of this project were simply not kid friendly.”  But some life events during the fasts were extremely kid friendly.  Did I mention that she adopted 2 orphans from Africa during the fast?  Without going over her budget?  Now, a friend paid for the second adoption, but taking on 2 strange (meaning unknown to you, not weird!) kids to live in your home and be part of your family, is not for the faint of heart.

Of necessity, this book is self-reflective.  But Jen is honest about what she sees.  And she admittedly cheats a little during a couple of the fasts.  And she obsesses a lot about what she can’t have.  But she also stresses the importance of the relationships she has with the friends and family who are participating with her, and how it helps her stay on track.  (Note to self:  If you ever decide to do this, don’t go it alone.)

I really liked this book, and plan to read it again soon, despite the uncomfortable proddings from the Holy Spirit about the excesses in my life.  Permit me to conclude with this passage from her conclusion:

We’re so conditioned to being a problem that we’ve forgotten we’re actually the answer.  God is not angry at you; how could He possibly be?  You are His daughter, His son; you’re on the team.  Don’t imagine He is sitting us all down for a lecture.  Rather, He’s staging a rally, gathering the troops.  The church is rising like a phoenix right now, collecting speed and power.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and wages war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one know but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  (Rev. 19:11-13)

Something marvelous and powerful is happening in the church.  The Bride is awakening and the Spirit is rushing.  it is everywhere.  This movement is not contained within a denomination or demographic, not limited to a region or country.  It’s sweeping up mothers and pastors and teenagers and whole congregations.  A stream became a current, and it is turning into a raging flood.  It is daily gathering conspirators and defectors from the American Dream.  It is cresting with the language of the gospel:  the weak made strong, the poor made rich, the proud made humble.

The body of Christ is mobilizing in unprecedented numbers.  Jesus is staging a massive movement to bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim freedom for captives.  The trumpet is blowing.  We are on the cusp, on the side of the Hero.  So while we’re mistakenly warring with ourselves, Jesus is waging war on injustice, and calling us to join Him.

Maybe we should listen.

Book review: Lace one-skein wonders

Judith Durant has written an awesome book for the intermediate knitter who wants to learn lace or bust some stash.

The projects start simply, with lace embellishments to simple hats, and increase in difficulty to include yummy lacy fingerless gloves.  I must confess a strong partiality to both the Trellis Mitts and the Travel-worthy Mitts.  Also, the I Heart You  Dress almost makes me want to have a kid.  Almost.  As for the scarves & the cowls, there’s not a bad one in the bunch.  None of them looks terribly difficult, but you won’t die of boredom, either.

The variety of projects means that you will have an appropriate gift for yourself or for anyone who has the exceptionally good taste to like handknits.

Projects include both written and charted instructions, which is particularly nice for those of us who are chart-phobic.  There are also projects that use thicker yarn, so you can practice lace-knitting skills while simultaneously making visible progress on your project.

I can’t wait to get my grubby little hands on a real copy of this book.  Highly recommended.

Book review: Handmade books for everyday adventures

I have to say, I love this little book by Erin Zamrzia.  It is engaging and beautifully photographed.  She writes as one who knows each reader personally.  The illustrations and directions are easy to follow, and the project ideas are terrific.   I definitely plan to make at least one book necklace, and who doesn’t need a waterproof book (or two)?  Belongs on the bookshelf of every crafter.


Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

No matter what happens.  No matter what.

Books I want to own – The concise guide to self-sufficiency

Rarely does a book live up to its title, but this one does. Everything from soil preparation from canning and freezing. Includes waste management and heating and cooling and how to set up a workshop that is durable but inexpensive. It even has recipes for chicken mash! Lots of illustrations and very clear instructions. The font is a little small (either that, or I’m getting old!), but the book is small. It can easily be carried in a largish purse, and the binding is sewn perfectly, which means that it will stay open on a table so that you can use both hands to do what you need to do. It also has a good, reliable index.

The concise guide to self-sufficiency by John Seymour. It’s probably out of print, but definitely worth hunting down (one of the few things it doesn’t tell you how to do!) and getting.

Books I want to own – Make your place

I’ve checked this book out half a dozen times, even lost it once and had to pay for it.  And I still haven’t got my refund!   Make your place: affordable, sustainable nesting skills has a wheelbarrow-load of great recipes for non-toxic household cleaners that generally smell nice.  It also has good advice for starting and tending a garden.  Plus, it has a certain homegrown, handcrafted charm.  And it will fit in your purse, so that you can look up the recipes while you are at the store, or fascinate your friends with the many uses of vinegar and baking soda.    
















Books I need to return to the library – The compassionate carnivore

Whatever. Okay. I get it. Factory-farmed meat is bad for the environment and for our health. It is also unkind to animals and bad for small farmers.  Hey! – that is something I can buy into – I like the idea of saving small farm.  But don’t the small farmers sell beef and milk and chickens to the big conglomerates? And if I boycott the conglomerates, will the small farmers go out of business even faster, leaving us with no choice but to eat frankenmeat? Because even if it hasn’t technically been genetically modified, there is every indication that the diet of these animals is not the one that was intended by their Creator.    


   There are several pages that are dedicated to the work of Temple Grandin.  And if you read pages 150-156, it will give you pause.  Okay.  I’m not giving    up meat.  But I am going to be way more conscious of where it comes from.  We all die, and if an animal dies so that I can eat, that’s okay, but I would        really prefer that it wasn’t tortured in the process.  

   I may have to wait a couple of weeks to return this one.  Not a fun read, but a necessary one, perhaps. 

The author is Catherine Friend, by the way.      

Books I want to own – Starter vegetable gardens: 24 no-fail plans for small organic gardens

by Barbara Pleasant, co-author of The complete compost gardening guide (yes, another book  I want).

I love this book!

It has shopping lists for every year.  It has labeled (as opposed to keyed) diagrams.  It has plans for long hot summers and short cool summers.  Living in Florida, I might need the former more than I need the latter.  Although I hear that that broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts grow very well here in the winter.  It tells you when to plant stuff, and how to use vegetables as ornamentals.  Well-indexed, too.  I may have to dig some green stuff out of my wallet for this one.

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