convalescing // things to hear/read/do

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Age really is just a number.

That is, until you get the H3N2. Nothing makes me more aware of my aging body than catching the “going-around” flu of the year. I thought I had escaped it. Our family (sans one child and one super-spouse) endured the dreaded winter stomach bug, just days before Christmas. We hurdled over January 1st and I thought we’d made it.

I thought I would be spared.

Nope.

I started feeling poorly last week and I just can’t kick it. It doesn’t help that I manage a cold like I manage most issues in my life, with “Mind Over Matter!” as my mantra. Which sounds all well and good until it’s day 6 and you still feel like death warmed up. I’m slowly learning the fine art of caring for myself, not that anyone has forced me not to….I simply choose to do so many other really really valuable (to us) things, and suddenly I’m forced to realize I haven’t slept or napped or exercised or rested or stopped. In five years.

I’m getting better, actually (don’t ask my friends, they might disagree.) I am starting to set down a good book, in favor of sleeping until at least 5:30am. I’m starting to allow myself to think of exercise as imperative to mental rejuvenation, rather than a luxury. I’ve even started to realize that the weekend a huge paper is due, “YOU CAN NOT HOST FOUR FAMILIES FOR APPETIZERS & DINNER, RACHEL!” This past year I’ve said “no” to a multitude of activities that sound/are amazing, in lieu of taking my small family on a quiet, local hike, where I can feel less drained, anxious or propelled to re-evaluate so many things. Peaceful mindfulness is becoming a good friend of mine. I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way.

I’m learning to slow down (kinda.)

This is all said with the clear recognition that I fail in my attempts, often. My husband and I are missing our weekly Couples Flamenco dance lesson (yep) because I started feeling better yesterday, and decided to go on a long run, last night. I woke up today feeling awful, and asked my always-gracious (but occasionally sassy-when-it’s-needed) friend Amanda to keep my kids, even though we weren’t going to the lesson, so I could sleep, and my hubby could rest as well. She texted me that I was crazy to go to the gym in the first place, but of course she would watch my kids.

She’s right. Like I said….I’m learning.

While I want to get up and vacuum my house RIGHT NOW, and do the dishes/laundry/homeschool planning….I’m choosing to sit down and do nothing. It’s rare, but man, it’s nice. I rather like it, actually.

Being forced to be still isn’t something I want to be known for, so I’ll take this physical admonition, enjoy it, and remember that just because one is restful and still, we should never assume they are not purposeful, intentional and living the life that God deems faithful. I think at times I’ve made the mistake of assuming because I’m busy, my life has purpose.

This just isn’t so.

Like I said….I’m learning.

In any case, I thought I would use this chance to share with you some really wonderful resources that I have been learning and growing from. We are living in a time of so much information and that can be a really huge blessing. I love looking for pockets of time, throughout my day, where I can read, listen to a podcast, watch a video or skim a magazine.

I received a bunch of Amazon gift cards for Christmas (my people know me) and here are a few books that just came in:

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I’m not finished with them all, but I would recommend each of them, nevertheless.

I’m a huge HUGE student of the life of Winston Churchill, and his part in history. Oh my goodness, I can’t get enough. THIS and THIS are must-haves, if you’re at all interested in his life. I also love this one, which is endearing and places Sir Winston in a more “sweet” light.

I’ve long been a follower of R.C. Sproul, his ministry and his theology. He passed away last month and I was so very sad that the believing world lost such a leader. One of my favorite resources to hand fellow Christians (or those searching) is the web address of Ligonier Ministries. It’s chalk full of videos, sermons and literature on living a life for Christ, and was begun by Dr. Sproul. I also highly recommend their monthly devotional pamphlet, TABLETALK, which is a ministry of Ligonier. It comes to my door each month, and I smile. It challenges me. I’m working through two books by Sproul and I believe they would be beneficial for any believer, no matter what stage of your spiritual journey you’re in. You won’t regret adding THIS and THIS to your home library (or any of his books, truthfully.)

I know that “history” isn’t for everyone, but I think it should be! It illuminates and adds context to modern-day issues, as well as being downright fascinating! You can be knee-deep in history by this evening, with a few resources I’ve recently devoured. Podcasts (once vetted) are a wonderful thing. FREE and full of information, opinion and story-telling! I’m so in love with this type of media because I can learn while engaging in other activities I need to accomplish (read: laundry.) It’s a win-win.

Without further adieu, here’s a very short list of historically-centered podcasts that will make your heart sing:

American History Tellers (new podcast with amazing narration and frames history with fictional stories which allow you to feel like you are living it)

The Christian History Podcast (how churches came to be, essentially)

Tides of History (supurb story-telling and context)

History Unplugged (a huge catalog of episodes, covering events from JFK to French trappers to Leif Erikson to the Siege of Malta)

Letters From War (my new favorite podcast by the WaPo, based on old letters found in a storage unit!)

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As I was writing this post, I realized I have some unspent Amazon dollars and I’m purchasing THIS, THIS (an oldie but particularly relevant,) and THIS (curious the narrative here) with the remains…..have you read any of these? What did you think?

A good recommendation is one of my favorite things, so share what you’re into right now!

Alright, I’m off to lay in bed, drink a luke-warm cup of coffee, and start a Netflix show. Here’s to hoping I kick this cold and learn my lesson….

Slowing down is a very good (and hard) thing to learn.

reading now // next to my armchair

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Christmas is a time of peace, quiet and lingering, for our family. Surprisingly to most people, our December calendar is generally pretty empty. Towards the end of the month, we really hibernate, spend time with friends, and hunker down together (hopefully this year, in the mountains.)

As we spend our days together, we are surrounded by several things – good food, good people and good books. This Friday announces the beginning of December, but I’ve already kicked off our Christmas reading (we already have our tree up, so why not?!)

Below I share the books we currently have our noses in – some holiday related. I hope you’ll find one that sounds just perfect to accompany a warm cup of tea, and a comfortable blanket. I have a turquoise armchair that I like to curl up in (with an electric blanket that my family teases me about, relentlessly) and these are some of the books you’ll find on the table, next to my cuppa.

Enjoy!

Next to my armchair:

The Common Book of Prayer (my copy was found at an estate sale, but they sale them on Amazon and they are red, too)

Come Let Us Adore Him (this is a new way to celebrate advent and the anticipation of the birth of the Christ child. I’m very excited to begin this)

Mere Motherhood (i love this real, raw account of a veteran homeschooling mother)

Pleasing People (a convicting, must-read for us recovering, type-A people pleasers)

Respectable Sins (an even more convicting book)

The LifeGiving Table (a beautiful call to intentional “being” with our family and loved ones)

For Advent:

A Simple Advent Guide by Tsh Oxenreider (new this year, it’s simple and lovely)

We Light the Candles (we’ve used this in years past and love it’s simplicity and focus on Christ)

Slow + Sacred (created by my dear friend, it’s simply beautiful)

For the children:

An Orange For Frankie (just heartwarming – in tears by the end)

Seek and Find Christmas Carol (adorable for the kids to do together – whimsical illustrations)

Little House Christmas (if you love the Ingalls family, you’ll love these short excerpts – we read one a week, by the fire)

Little Woman Christmas (Alcott makes Christmas so darn charming)

Happy Reading!

book list 2017 // something for everyone

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Every.Single.Christmas.Season I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what gifts to give. I really do enjoy buying the perfect gift for my loved ones – something special that will uniquely fit a person’s personality and interests.

I had a flashbulb moment this year (and I’m not sure why on earth I hadn’t thought of this earlier). I was blow-drying my hair (when all my best ideas happen) and I thought, “This is the year of books! Everyone gets a book!” It’s a pretty perfect idea – I adore literature, and there really is a book for every person – opening a world of new ideas, opinions and thoughts. Books grow and teach us. They soften us. They are the perfect, thought-filled gift.

This year, in between shopping for my friends and family at the bookstore, I decided to also compile a book list for you. As with any booklist, mine is obviously not exhaustive. Many of the books dearest to me don’t even appear. It pained me to not include each and every amazing title that I’ve enjoyed or gleaned from, but it’s just not possible!

The books I selected have been read by me this year, or are those that I pick when asked for a suggestion in that specific category. It doesn’t mean they are the only suitable choices, simply my go-to’s and ones that have proved perfectly fitting. There are at least another 30+ I could add for each category (and hundreds more for history lovers, educators and children!) Alas, that wouldn’t help you much, would it? To that end, I endeavored to keep my selections to a minimum.

Again, there are so many others I wanted to add, and if you need additional selections, contact me! I’d love to help you find the exact book you are searching for.

ENJOY and here’s to reading!

Note: There is much crossover amongst the categories. Please take a look at each, for you might find something that suits a completely different person than suspected!

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For the student of theology and religious study:

For the homeschool mother:

For the sports lover:

For the new-ish Elementary school reader:

For the the food & feast lover/entertainer in your life:

For the political junkie and social issues aficionado:

For the science-fiction/fantasy lover:

For the hurting or grieving:

For the dad who doesn’t have enough time to read:

For your husband:

For the exhausted mom:

For the classically-inclined young lady:

For the middle schooler who isn’t completely won over by current YA fiction:

For the young one in the family (picture books and short read-alouds):

For the skeptic:

For the eagerly-growing Christian:

For the history buff:

For the poetry/short story/essay lover:

For the older and wiser women in your life:

For your grandparent:

For that adorable pre-schooler in your family:

For the fiction-reader:

For your sister:

For the family who loves to read aloud together:

For the education-lover:

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I hope this list proves beneficial. I had a wonderful time compiling it for you.

Merry Christmas!