Even though I was counting down the days to the end of April and the beginning of our little spring vacation trip to Taiwan, somehow the end of the month What I’m Into post crept up on me. So here it is, a little late, but not forgotten. As always, I am linking up with Leigh Kramer for this monthly round-up.
What I’m Reading:
I’m actually super confused about what I read this month. I had to look back on Goodreads and check the dates because I couldn’t remember… yeah, it’s been that kind of month. Apparently, I read 5 books. I’m at 20 for the year so far which is on-pace for my goal of 60.
An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. I really love Barbara Brown Taylor. This book was a breath of fresh after so many books (and sermons and churches and Christians) who intentionally or unintentionally separate the spiritual life from the physical world. This book made me feel so grounded in my body and to this earth. I especially loved the practical disciplines she suggested for making the world a place of worship. Things as simple as taking a walk or working with your hands. or being still and resting. The thing I loved most about this book was walking away feeling that a simple life could be good and honest and holy and true when so often I feel the drive to be more and do more, even from the church.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. (First book in the All Souls Trilogy). Oh man. This book drove me nuts. I read it because several bloggers and fellow readers who have similar taste to mine raved about it. This book is Twilight for grown-ups mixed with The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Since I really hated both of those books, it makes sense that this book drove me crazy. However, if you really really liked either or both of those books, then you will love this. Diana Bishop is a witch who inadvertently discovers an old manuscript that all of the non-human community has been searching for for years. Vampire Matthew Clairmont stumbles upon Diana while in pursuit of this manuscript, and the two fall immediately, madly, and passionately in love despite the fact that a union between vampires and witches is forbidden. This book is 600 pages of almost nothing happening. And then when something finally does happen (around 400 pages in) it is resolved within 20 pages. I could not connect with the main character, Diana, at all. I didn’t understand her reactions throughout most of the book. There was so much tea drinking and wine drinking and not-having-sex for somewhat inexplicable reasons (very reminiscent of Twilight) and what essentially felt like the same conversation happening dozens of times–Matthew saying, “No, Diana, you cannot do x. I won’t allow it,” and Diana saying, “Matthew, I am my own person I can do what I want.” And Matthew responding in awe, “Will you never cease to amaze me?” Diana also did a lot of telling people that Matthew was in charge and they all had to listen to him, which rubbed my feminist side the wrong way. And yet…at the very end of the book things suddenly got more interesting. And now I kind of want to know what happens in spite of finding this book almost painful at times. Dilemma.
Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down by Tony Merida. The author of this book is the pastor of a church in North Carolina that was supported by my former church in Raleigh. I picked this up because it was pitched as a sort of anti-Francis-Chan’s Crazy Love. It was supposedly about how God doesn’t call us to be radical, he calls us to be faithful in ordinary lives. But then came the twist. And the twist was convicting. Because Merida pointed out that our ordinary lives should be about extravagant justice and mercy, especially to the poor, the orphan, and the widow, because these things are the very fundamentals of what it means to follow Christ. I didn’t think this book was especially profound, but it was challenging and convicting.
Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look, by Emily T. Wierenga. I had a complicated relationship with this book. First off, I think it’s mis-marketed in a way. I didn’t get the sense that this book was about finding “home” even though the author shares life experiences that occurred in various parts of the world. To me it it was more about finding herself, coming to terms with her faith and with her family. The writing is poetic and moving at times, but at other times it feels like she is drawing connections without fully explaining them. In other words, it probably makes sense to her how these things are connected, but it doesn’t always to the reader. There were quite a few times when I wanted to know more or to understand more. Wierenga writes candidly about growing up with a missionary/pastor father who was distant throughout her childhood, about her struggle with anorexia as a child and again as an adult, and about the pain and the healing of moving home to help her father care for her mother who was ill with brain cancer. The stories she tells are poignant and evocative, even if some left me wanting more. Overall I thought this was a lovely memoir.
I also want to give another shout out to my friend Brett “Fish” Anderson’s book i, church. If you are interested in a realistic view of the problems with the church coupled with a hope for how the church could be, you should check this out.
What I’m Watching:
Television: Finished The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (sometimes hilarious, sometimes just OK) and The Mindy Project and caught up on Pretty Little Liars (total guilty pleasure show). Still making our way through the new season of Community and staying current with Brooklyn Nine Nine (hilarious) and Nashville. Also picked up where I left off with The Good Wife a few months ago. I’m mid season-2 now and still love it.
Movies: Avengers: Age of Ultron – entertaining, but I didn’t love that the villain is essentially a computer. I think Loki is one of the most fascinating villains in the realm of superhero mythology, so I missed him.
What I’m Eating:
Wraps. Guys, I just figured out that if I take a fairly boring salad and wrap it in a tortilla – Bam! Magic. I tried it out with a recipe of Bang Bang Shrimp and it was probably the most excited I’ve been about lunch in two years. Tonight I made buffalo chicken wraps. I sort of feel unstoppable. Follow me on Pinterest for more of what I’m cooking.
On the Internets:
My sister-in-law sent me this article called “I Followed My Stolen Iphone Across the World and Became a Celebrity.” It’s kind of long, but it’s so amazing. And hilarious.
This post from a sort-of-internet/sort-of-real-life friend Abigail Heath about wanting life to be a fairytale. I actually have a lot of thoughts about this that I plan to share in an upcoming blog post.
The news about actor Jonathan Crombie’s sudden death made many of us sad and nostalgic about the role his most famous character, Gilbert Blythe, played in our childhoods and adolescences. Here are two great posts that express some of my own feelings about what Gilbert Blythe meant to me and how one person, even playing a part, can impact the lives of so many: this one from Kelsey Munger and this one from Sarah Torna Roberts.
I was also moved by this piece “How Christians Have Sex” from my college friend, Rachel. I’ve always admired Rachel’s frankness, but more than that, the way she finds poetry in the raw truth. While our experiences are very different, this post gave me a lot to think about and I admire her courage and her willingness to express confusion and doubt in a world that prizes certainty and self-assuredness.
Also, just everything on my blogging friend Angela’s travel blog. Especially all of the spectacular apartments she and her hubby manage to find around Europe.
This video that my mom sent me made me cry. Let’s all walk through the door marked, “Beautiful,” OK?
On the Blog:
I’ve really tried to stay committed to posting three times a week though I admit that sometimes it’s a challenge. Thankfully, I have my 52 Weeks of Adventure posts and my Friday Book Chats to keep me focused. This month I wrote about unplanned loveliness, a coastal hike in Busan, a professional baseball game, and a major hair change. I wrote about my favorite spiritual memoirs, about books I own but haven’t read, about the most interesting fictional characters I’ve encountered, and about my favorite books to re-read.
I also wrote about my struggles with wholeheartedness in the midst of failures and about combatting shame with self-compassion. I wrote about gratitude and started a Thankful Thursdays guest series with this post from Pradnya Vernekar.
Also, if you just can’t get enough of me, you can like my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter and Instagram. I will probably follow you back if I can figure out how. 😉 And I will definitely keep you updated on flash Kindle deals and other stuff I’m discovering day-to-day.
What I’ve Been Up To:
Things are starting to crank into high gear as we make preparations to move back to America. At this point we are about 3 1/2 months away. For a while I was so excited for the next step that it felt like it couldn’t come quickly enough, but nowadays I’ve become more hesitant. I’m anxious about all of the unknowns of what comes next, but also realizing how much of this life I will miss and how quickly it will all feel like a dream. I am a complete mess of contradictory emotions.
We went through some major ups and downs as we considered whether or not we should buy a house when we return to the US (we landed on not, for the record) and I struggled through some serious homesickness when all of my college roommates got together a few weeks ago to help with planning my best friend’s wedding.
I continued to wade through awkward interactions with CoT this month (which have actually declined a bit as we’ve fallen into a routine) and got to witness the school’s Sports Day at the end of the month. It was similar to Field Day in my school growing up with tons of strange relay races and athletic competitions. There was also a lot of parent and even grandparent participation built in which I thought was kind of sweet.
We have two short trips planned for May, one to Taiwan and one to Tokyo, so I expect this month will move quickly. I have a few guest posts coming up this month for other blogs that I am excited to participate in as well as continuing my Thankful Thursday series with guest writers here on my blog. I really enjoy opportunities to collaborate with other bloggers and I hope you enjoy those posts in the coming weeks!