Finish #100 – Jesus Calling

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Finish 100! I made it! Just in time! I’ve been working on this one all year. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is a devotional book with short readings and a few scripture references to look up each day. I chose this devotional after seeing (and flipping through) several copies at my brother-in-law’s house. It seems to be a favorite over there.

From some of what I’ve read on-line, this devotional seems to be a favorite of some and a great, horrible, practically evil thing to others.

I, for one, found it inspiring. Yes, it’s written as if God/Jesus is talking to you. That seemed to be one thing that annoyed some people. Yes, it’s not deep and theological, which seemed to annoy the same people. We don’t always need deep and theological. Sometimes we just need a kind word or a reminder that we have a loving Father. Deep thoughts are sometimes too overwhelming. While the scripture references are short, they get you into the Bible. Whether you read more or not while you’re in there, well, that’s entirely up to you. I found that I tended to read a lot more.

I’ve chosen my new devotional book for 2017 and can’t wait to dive into it on January 1. You’ll have to wait until the end of 2017 to learn the name of that one!

Stay tuned for a list of my top ten favorite books of 2016…and for the first book of 2017. I don’t know what that will be yet, but my basket of library books is full of goodies!

Now on to the festivities of New Year’s Eve…watching the ball drop at Times Square from the warm comfort of my living room, playing games with the family, eating junk food in my pjs, and drinking a glass of bubbly, non-alcoholic, sparkling grape juice! I sure know how to party!

Finishes #98 & 99 – A Macomber duo

Like a kid in a candy shop, so am I in a music store. We visited my favorite music store this week where I think I spent about two hours sifting through books, trying out songs on their keyboard (I can’t stand playing on keyboards, by the way), rejecting some books and putting others into the “buy” pile, and spending way more than I probably should on music for myself and eldest. I found a book of piano music from Mario video games and a couple of books of cello music for eldest. For myself (and eldest, as she’s already post-it noted several favorites), I found a book of Gershwin, a book of Ragtime music, and a New Orleans blues book.

And, because our music shelf was horribly packed and music was piling up on the floor and in a basket, we went to Walmart the next day and found an awesome new bookcase for our music room. Yes, we found an awesome bookcase at Walmart. Shocking, right?! It actually seems and looks quite high quality. (We knew it would be awesome as we had purchased one for middle daughter for Christmas. $68 for an awesome bookcase. Can’t beat that. We looked at one at ArtVan furniture store that would have needed bookends on every shelf to keep the books on for the low, low price of $1000. They had other options, but we were done listening. Actually, I was done listening when I walked in the door and was immediately pounced upon, not literally lest you think they are in the habit of assaulting their customers, by a salesperson with a CIA-like headset in his ear. We were pounced upon by another salesperson on our way out the door. I was beginning to think we would have to purchase something before they would let us leave. Most disturbing!)

So, in the midst of all the music store, furniture buying and setting up excitement, I finished two Debbie Macomber books. Yes, Debbie Macomber. If you’ve been following me on my 100 book journey, you will know that I am not a huge fan. I’ve had this book, passed on to me from my mom, on my shelf for many years. From the date inside the cover, it looks as if my mom read it in 2010. That means I’ve had it for 6 years. I figured it was about time that I crack open the cover and move this thing out of my house.

dscn2037Finishes #98 and #99 are from a book titled A Gift to Last. It contains two novels, Can This Be Christmas? and Shirley, Goodness and Mercy. They were quick reads, both set during the Christmas season. Neither one did much to change my opinion of the author. I’m not saying they were awful. They weren’t. If you like a light story without too much “meat,” then this would be for you. My reading preferences have changed so much over the past several years, though, that I’ve come to expect more.

 

Finish #97 – Falling

I did a bad thing. A very bad thing. I hate to even admit to it, but I will…

I read the ending of Finish #97, Falling by Jane Green, before I was halfway through the book. Yes, I read ahead.

(Insert gasp of astonishment from all those who would never dream of reading ahead here. Insert murmurs of judgment and condemnation here also. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on!)

Is reading ahead a sin? It should be. There’s always guilt involved when I do it. I mean, authors spend a lot of time perfecting their stories, don’t they? Why should I skip all the carefully crafted build-up and jump right to the end?

So, why do I do it? Because I can! It’s like being able to see the future, and I like it!

Usually.

Not this time.

Jane Green, how could you give us that ending???? I can’t even tell you all what was so horrible without ruining the story for you. Just heed my advice: DO NOT READ AHEAD! Seriously. You will be so disappointed, so shocked, so, well, angry, that you will put the book down and wonder if you should even bother continuing.

But continue I did.

I learned a lesson, though. I don’t think I’ll ever read ahead again.

dscn2035Ending aside. I enjoyed this book. I would have enjoyed it more had I read it as it was intended-from page one to page whatever without any skipping ahead. I do believe that I will be looking for more books by Jane Green. I want her to know, though, that if she ever gives me another ending like this one, I’ll revolt by never reading another one of her books!

Finish #96 – Operation Yes

As 2016 comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about goals for next year. I will not call them RESOLUTIONS. I refuse to use that word. I read somewhere recently that a large percentage of people stop keeping their New Years resolutions within the first two weeks…or something like that. I’m one of those people…and the resolution that I often give up on has something to do with diet or exercise.

So instead of resolutions, I’m going to be working on goals in the coming year. I may share some of them as we enter 2017, but since there are still a few days left in 2016, there’s no reason to worry about them yet! I will guarantee, though, that reading 100 books will again be on my list of goals for 2017. I found an interesting blog that I skimmed last night that had something to do with making a goal journal. It seemed like a neat idea, but I don’t know if that is something that I could keep up with for a whole year.

Last month I was concerned that I wouldn’t make it through 100 books this year. There were just so many left to read! Now, here I am with only 4 more to go! Yeah!

Finish #96 is Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes. I started reading this book to middle daughter and son last year. By last year, I mean last school year. It was supposed to be the last book that we read before summer vacation. Well, you can probably figure out, considering how long it took us to finish it, just how well middle daughter and son enjoyed it.

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Yep. Not much.

I didn’t think it was too bad. However, there were two great heaving sighs of relief that could be heard as we finished the last page…one from each kid. Their greatest complaint had to do with how much description the author used.

I think this book may be the last book that I read aloud to the kids. Insert sad face here! At their ages, though, they can read so much faster on their own and prefer to do so. I’ve been reading aloud to them for over 17 years, starting with the piles of board books that I would read to Eldest when she was a baby. We’ve enjoyed all sorts of stories together over thousands of hours! We’ve enjoyed funny stories, poetry, funny poetry, brainy books about science-y things and historical things, stories from all over the world…

Reading together was truly one of the greatest joys of teaching them at home.

Finish #95 – The Total Package

Here’s a little poem for this evening:

Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house,

the lights were all flickering, about to go out.

The wind was blowing, whipping trees all around,

while piles of snow melted into the ground.

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas (a day late)! It’s difficult to believe that yesterday was Christmas when the temperature outside has risen above freezing, the snowman that was on the porch had to be tossed into the yard before he melted everywhere, and, well, this is all my fault, the Christmas tree has already been taken apart and stored away for next year. Some might think that I’m a bit of a Christmas Scrooge for wanting to get the house back to normal as soon as possible after the festivities, but after having it up since Thanksgiving weekend, I’ve enjoyed it enough for the year.

You may recall that I previously wrote about Holiday Happiness Essentials and listed a couple of things that I considered essential to my enjoyment of the holidays. I ‘m pleased to say that I completed all the items on my list and a couple more that I hadn’t thought of at the time.

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I made cinnamon rolls and enjoyed them for several days.

We watched a hokey Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel. Oh my gosh. Hokey with a capital “H.” I think it was called The Sounds of Christmas or something like that.

I made paper snowflakes…which wasn’t on my original list of things that I wanted to do this season.

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DSCN2017.JPGWe went sledding and played “Capture the Sled,” which was a lot like “Capture the Flag.” Let me warn you: It’s pretty tiring running through deep snow. I hadn’t been sledding in such a long time. I’d forgotten how fun it was to go spinning down the hill. Falling off the sled…not so fun. Luna, the dog, enjoyed running up and down the hill after us…until she heard some snowmobilers and decided it was time to retreat to the safety of her home!

I finished a Christmas ornament. Every year I think that I should make some ornaments for the tree, and every year, Christmas passes before I get started. I finished it this morning and hung it on the tree for all of 60 seconds before I started putting ornaments away. But, hey, at least I got it done! It will hang from the fireplace mantel until next Christmas so I can enjoy it for awhile. Here it is:

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Here are two more that I did a while ago:

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I think having a list of things that I wanted to do really made the holidays more enjoyable. It seems like I get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of getting cards out (and I wonder why I even bother since we hardly received any cards in return this year) and buying presents, that I often forget to relax and just do some things that I enjoy.

Amidst all of the hustle and bustle and the doing of things that I enjoy, I finished book #95, The Total Package by Stephanie Evanovich. I’ve previously read a couple of books written by her. I recall enjoying them a bit more. This one wasn’t bad, but it won’t be on my top ten list for the year.

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Finish #94 – Dog Songs

DSCN2016.JPGHere lies Belle. I like to think of Belle as a hippie. She always looks a little stoned, she’s peaceful, and she’s loving.

Here’s a story about Belle:

Last night while eating dinner, middle daughter commented, “Oh, look, Belle and BooBoo are sitting on the stool together.”

We all turned to gaze at this unusual sight. Belle and BooBoo don’t often hang out together. They’ve never, that we know of, shared a barstool at the counter.

It got even cuter. Belle began licking BooBoo, washing his ears. We all said, “Awww.”

Then things took an ugly turn! Perhaps Belle encountered a particularly nasty tasting bit of ear wax. Perhaps she wanted the stool for herself. Suddenly, she lunged at BooBoo and bit his ear.

We gaped, mouths hanging open. Our little hippie had turned into a demon!

Whilst sitting there trying to wrap our minds around what we had just witnessed, the little demon struck again! Middle daughter was now choking on the cornbread coating her throat. The rest of us continued to gape.

I’ve often thought I should write down some of our cat stories. With four cats with four different personalities, we’ve got plenty of stories. Mary Oliver in Dog Songs, which is Finish #94, did just that. Only it was about dogs, obviously, not cats, and she wrote poems.

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Finish #93 – The Christmas Box

DSCN2012.JPG“Holiday Happiness Essential”: Read a Christmas book. (I added that one to my list after my last post.)

Finish #93 is The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans. This was the first book I’ve read by him. I was surprised to see that he’d written so many when I was browsing the shelves at the library. Not only was this book a quick read, it was also a very interesting and thought provoking story.

Quoting from the story, “She knew that in my quest for success in this world I had been trading diamonds for stones.” What a great lesson that so many of us need to learn. You’ll have to read the book to understand the context.

I will admit that I often struggle with the desire to be “successful” in the eyes of my peers. These struggles are often intensified after exposure to one or two particularly annoying people in my life and whenever I read any comments online between the two sides of the Mommy Wars. But what does it mean to be “successful?” Am I only successful if I make a lot of money and have a great job? In the eyes of the world, yes, I would only be successful if I make a lot of money, have a great job, cure cancer in my spare time, and travel to foreign countries to do good deeds. (Unless you’re Mother Theresa. Then poor is okay.) But what would I end up with in the end? I might be remembered for a few years after my death, but then the world would forget me (unless I was Mother Theresa) and move on to the next great person. Would I make it into the history books, immortalized for all time, doomed to pester high school students as one more fact they’ll be forced to regurgitate on an exam? Probably not. Geez, some people get elected President and barely get a mention.

So what should we be striving for? What kind of success? I’m going to go for the kind of success that makes me happy, fulfills me, and is good for my family. What that looks like for me is going to be vastly different than what that looks like for you or anyone else. And if I never make it into a history book or do something great in the eyes of my peers…who cares! My family got the best of me, and giving them my best makes me FEEL successful.