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What I’m Into: March 2015 Edition

March is over and spring seems to have officially arrived in Korea! I am linking up with Leigh Kramer for my monthly What I’m Into post.

What I’m Reading:

MistbornMistborn #1:The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. I’m a big fan of Brandon Sanderson, but had not yet read his Mistborn trilogy. I tackled the first book this month and will probably delve into the second one in April. In a land where ash falls from the sky and mists envelop the night, a band of thieves plots to overthrow the Lord Ruler, the immortal king who has oppressed the people of for centuries. Kelsier is the tortured hero, leader of the band of thieves, and schemer who has designed an elaborate and perfect plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler using allomancy, the magic of metals. To complete his plan he needs the help of Vin, a street thief who has no idea the power she possesses. This book has solid characters, an interesting magic system, and a compelling plot line. It’s not Way of Kings, but it is still a really great fantasy book

Girl meets godGirl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner. This is Winner’s first book and it explores her conversion from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity. Reading this was a strange experience for me since I read it after reading her more recent book Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis which I wrote about here). To be honest, I think reading these in reverse order probably affected my reactions to some of this book. Overall I liked it more than Still and I was really intrigued by all that she shared about Orthodox Judaism and the connections between the Jewish tradition and Christianity. However, reading it and knowing about her future struggles with Christianity and even her future divorce, I felt like I could see some foreshadowing in this book. One thing that’s interesting to note is that Winner converted to Orthodox Judaism in the first place. Her father was Jewish, but her mother was Christian. In the Jewish faith, Judaism is passed down by the mother, so Winner actually had to undergo an extensive process to formally convert to Orthodox Judaism. A few years later, after becoming convinced of the truth of Christianity, she uses a marriage and divorce metaphor to talk about her conversion. In one passage in particular, she speaks about leaving Judaism in terms of divorce and she says,

“If it was a marriage, me to Orthodox Judiaism, I failed long before I met up with Jesus. I failed from the beginning. You could say I became a Christian because Judaism had stopped working for me, but the truth is that I had not done very much to make Judaism work…

Sometimes divorce is the only thing to do. Sometimes it is the more loving thing to do. Sometimes, you have to do it.”

I don’t think these passages would have stood out to me so much if I didn’t know what came later for her. There are moments when it seems that faith is more a matter of choosing what she intellectually has decided is true than it is a matter of her choosing something she believes in with her heart as well and is something that greatly impacts how she lives her life. All of that to say, I thought the book was very interesting, but reading it after Still made me wonder if some of her more recent struggles are really larger patterns in her life.

CinderCinder by Marissa Meyer (This is only $2.99 for Kindle right now!) The stand-out book for me this month might just be Cinder. This is  a YA book about a futuristic world where androids are essential to daily life and the moon has been colonized and become the home of a new species known as Lunars. This unique twist on the Cinderella story involves a cyborg/mechanic Cinderella, a handsome prince, and the search for a cure for the plague pandemic that is wiping out Earth’s population. This is not the sort of book I would normally gravitate towards, but it is so fresh and clever and well-done that I couldn’t put it down. Thanks to my friend, Karissa, whose positive reviews convinced me to give it a shot!

ImperfectionThe Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. Brené Brown is a huge inspiration to me. I’ve written previously about her book, Daring Greatly, which explores the power of vulnerability and her two TED talks (here and here) are phenomenal. This is her book about wholeheartedness and what we need to live a wholehearted life. As most of you know, wholehearted is my OneWord for 2015. This book inspired and encouraged me in my journey towards wholeheartedness. Some of the material was already familiar to me because it was touched on in her other book or in her TED talks, but this book was still well worth the read. I will be blogging more in the near future about specific steps I am taking on my journey to embrace courage, compassion, and connection.

I’ve just started Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World and I am GREATLY anticipating the release of Rachel Held Evans’ new book, Searching for Sunday, which comes out April 14th. If you’re a big reader (or even if you’re not) I would love to connect with you on Goodreads!

What I’m Watching:

This month I caught up/finished the current season of Nashville and Jonathan and I tried to stay current (with limited success because of internet troubles, so we are still behind) with New Girl, The Mindy Project, and Brooklyn Nine Nine. We also finished Broadchurch (amazing) and watched a few episodes each of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the new season of Community, and Fresh Off the Boat. I have to say, the standout for me so far is Fresh Off the Boat. I think I find it especially funny and accurate since my experience living in Asia.

We actually went to a lot of movies this month and were able to see Birdman (Jonathan liked it, I was ambivalent), Cinderella (I could die of happiness.This was so beautiful I never wanted it to end), and Insurgent (I like this about the same as the first movie minus Shailene Woodley’s amazing hair. I do really like her though. It was entertaining). Speaking of Shailene Woodley’s hair, we also watched The Spectacular Now which I thought was a really good, if unsettling movie.

What I’m Eating:

I recently tried out a zucchini apple muffin recipe that came out really well and is something I will make again. You know me and zucchini – I like to put zucchinis up in everything. I’ve also been obsessed with enchiladas lately. They are all I want to eat. Follow me on Pinterest for more of my favorite recipes!

Photo by: twopeasintheirpod.com

Photo by: twopeasintheirpod.com Click image for link to the recipe.

On the Internets:

I loved this piece from Micha Boyett about choosing love and humility over rightness. I think Micha is such a beautiful writer and truth-speaker.

I appreciated this post from my friend Karissa about the differences between writing and blogging, something I’ve been struggling to sort out myself.

My friend, Briana is running a 3-part series called Love Letters to the Church from a Millennial at Off the Page that are just fantastic.

This stunning piece of prose by Addie Zierman that reminds us of the love of the father for the prodigal, even when he is still a long way off.

I loved this piece from my friend, Sara, about where our confidence comes from.

I actually really appreciated this interview from Angeline Jolie regarding her recent surgery to remove her ovaries, etc. after her double mastectomy last year. The story was completely sensationalized in the media, but I like her message about making sure women have all the information they need about their health and that they can feel empowered and in control of their bodies.

I loved this brief sermon from Nadia Bolz-Weber about that oh-so-famous verse, John 3:16. She really has a way of breathing new life into things that feel old and tired.

“God so loved this corrupt world of empires and victims and violence that God gave God’s self to us. God so loved the world that God came to us in the most vulnerable and fragile way possible. God so loved the world God created that God walked among us as love.

I love Mumford and Sons new single, “Believe” whose chorus, “I don’t even know if I believe,” might as well be my anthem most days. I think it’s a fantastic song, but I can’t pretend that I don’t miss the banjo. Something about the folksy bluegrass sound touches me in a way that electric guitars just don’t. (PS- don’t watch the video, it will make you motion sick!)

On the Blog:

This month I kept up with my 52 Weeks of Adventure series by posting  Weeks 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 adventures.

I had an article published over at Relevant.com about overcoming guilt in my sex life and did a follow-up post here. I wrote about not faking it til I make it and living authentically, about my recent struggle with anxiety, and about how judgement day might just be the best day of our lives.

I also continued my Friday Book Chat series with posts on my abandoned books shelf, my favorite mysteries, my favorite childhood books, and my guilty pleasure books. I also run a list of current Kindle deals that I’m aware of on books I’ve read or would like to read at the end of these posts.

What I’ve Been Up To:

Thinking back to the beginning of March feels like ages and ages ago. I feel like I’ve made a lot of changes this month. We started the new school year and I’ve been dealing with my interesting new co-teacher.

I got a tattoo (which I love! I already want another one), new glasses, and highlights (I don’t think I have any pictures of that, but I basically look the same just blonder).

tattoo2

Glasses

New glasses. Total cost of the frames and top-quality lenses – $60. Go Korea!

My friends have been rocking at life lately.

My best friend got engaged and I got to help her pick out a wedding dress thanks to Google hangout and lots of pictures. Two of my friends announced pregnancies this month, both of which were somewhat surprising and completely exciting. My friend, Karissa is having a poetry chapbook published cause she’s just that awesome.  And my friend Brett “Fish” Anderson published and launched his book i, church which you should all buy and read and share with others now. Brett is passionate about the church and has a realistic view of the problems with it while also sharing hope and casting vision for what the church should be.

This was also the month that things became more definitive for us in terms of what comes next. Jonathan applied to a number of graduate school programs to do an MFA. These programs are incredibly small and selective and I am so tremendously proud of his work and his perseverance.  After months of working, then waiting, then praying, we’ve arrived at a decision. (Drumroll, please!) We are moving back the US mid-August where Jonathan will be pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing (for fiction) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. The paperwork isn’t in yet, but that’s our final step in making it official.  And just to brag on him – this program received over a hundred fiction applicants and accepted four. FOUR, y’all. He is so freaking awesome.

I will be working full-time to support us, though I don’t know where or what I’ll be doing at this point. We’ve never been to Columbia, but are really pleased about it’s proximity to some of our closest friends, almost all of whom live somewhere in the Carolinas. We are full of excitement and anticipation for this new season, though it’s going to be a crazy ride. The earliest date we can possibly leave Korea is August 14th and school starts for Jonathan on August 20th. Best case scenario is that we will have about 4 days to find a place to live and get all of our stuff there from my parents house in Louisiana. It’s gonna be an adventure. Good thing we’re always up for those!

What have you been into this month?

What I’m Into: March 2014 Edition

I am linking up with Leigh Kramer for her What I’m Into series (a few days late). Since the new school semester started at the beginning of March I have been much busier than I was in January and February which means I’ve done a lot less reading/watching/listening, etc. than I would like. So, I’m including a few from February as well to round out the list. I am very excited to have a guest post for Briana Meade coming out very soon, so stay tuned for that!

 

What I’ve Been Reading:

Way of Kings

Words of

Blue Bike



 

 

 

 

where'd you go bernadette

girl

Name of the Wind

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Way of Kings and Word of Radiance. Books 1 & 2 of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Chronicles. Oh. Em. Gee. Some of the best books I have read ever. Period. And I have read a looooot of books. Beautiful writing, stunning world-building, interesting plot, complex characters, twists and turns. These books have everything. The only downside is that the second one just came out this month, so it will probably be another three years before Sanderson churns out his next 1,000 page masterpiece. Also, I’m cheating a little bit because I am not quite done with Words of Radiance, but maybe you can cut me some slack.
  2. Notes from a Blue Bike Tsh Oxenreider’s new book about living simply and creating the life you want to live. In many ways I was inspired by this book to evaluate and define what it is I want out of life. What are my priorities? What are the things that matter most deeply to me? What are the values I want to build my life around? And how do I make those things reality. You only live once and you can either whine the whole time about how life isn’t the way you wish it was, or you can find ways to intentionally create the life you want to live. Tsh gives examples from various times in her family’s lives when they have been  living in Turkey, in Austin, Texas and in a tiny town in Oregon. I mostly really enjoyed this book and its message. But then she wrote a chapter about traveling and how it’s important for their family and so they have found a way to make it work even after having kids. At first I was like, “Hurray! It’s totally possible, see?!” And then I read about how they spent a week in Paris with their kids and made compromises like barely seeing the Louvre and stopping at playgrounds so their kids could get out energy and foregoing a romantic picnic by the Eiffel Tower. And that’s where she lost me. Because all I could think was, “That sounds great, except for the part where your kids were there and you had to go to all of the playgrounds in Paris.” So, this confirmed for me that I need to go to Paris before we have kids.
  3. Girl at the End of the World. This is Elizabeth Esther’s memoir about growing up in and leaving a fundamentalist cult. It was equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful. Although not many of us have experienced the level of fundamentalism and abuse Esther experienced, I thought her story shed light on what spiritual abuse looks like in an extreme case which helped me understand what it can look like in milder situations. I also drew hope from the way Esther and her family were eventually able to make peace with God and find a way back to the Church. If anyone had a reason to give up on Church entirely, it was Esther, and reading her story gave me hope for my own.
  4. Allegiant– Veronica Roth. I read this because I read the first two books in the Divergent trio and felt compelled to finish the story. It’s easily the worst of the three books. In this book the narrative is told by two first-person narrators (Tris and Four) and chapters alternate between them, but the voices were so similar I constantly had to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to remember who was supposed to be speaking. The plot feels very fragmented rather than cohesive and in the end I still wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be hoping for.
  5. Gone Girl –Gillian Flynn. I read this as a quick read at the end of my vacation and I can’t say I liked it all that much. Without ruining the ending (even though I don’t really recommend reading it) I’ll just say that in my opinion, the author sacrificed an opportunity for complexity in the characters and some insights on relationships for the sake of sensationalism. Not a fan.
  6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple. I read this book as a light vacation kind of read and I was not disappointed. It’s fun, it’s clever, it’s well-written. I didn’t guess the ending from page room. The characters are unique and interesting. If you are looking for something light but not mindless, I’d recommend it.
  7. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This is another long fantasy book, but the prose is stunning and the characters are great. In simplest terms, it tells the story of a young boy who loses his family to some mysterious forces and spends a lifetime trying to find out what happened to them and seek justice. With about a million plot twists along the way. If you are at all into fantasy, read it.

 

 

What I’ve Been Watching:

Movies:

Captain America – Winter Soldier: This was another typical superhero movie and I found it entertaining as I generally like superhero movies. I’ve always found the Captain America character in himself a bit bland since he is just sort of an all-around good guy without a lot of internal conflicts. I did think this movie added a little more complexity to the Captain America saga. And he’s easy on the eyes.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – What to say…it’s a Wes Anderson movie. While I LOVED Moonrise Kingdom, this movie was harder to categorize as something I “enjoyed.” Some parts of it were deeply sad, but were mixed in with Anderson’s characteristic quirky humor so that it was also amusing. But it was hard to say, “Oh I loved it!” when there were some very sad or upsetting elements. I do always love the look of Wes Anderson movies. Each shot is like a painting and I find them very visually interesting.

 

TV Shows:

Since finishing both Sherlock and Downton Abbey, I’ve been keeping up with my regular shows including Nashville, Parenthood, Bones (out of loyalty, even though every episode is essentially the same), and The series finale for How I Met Your Mother took me through an emotional wringer I may never recover from.

Jonathan and I have also started watching the IT Crowd and are trying to catch up on Scandal which we just started watching a few months ago. (Are we the only people who don’t find Olivia Pope to be all that sympathetic of a character, btw? I just spend most of the show feeling really bad for David Rosen). We also watch Parks and Recreation, New Girl, and Modern Family as they air.

What I’ve Been Eating:

I made a zucchini lasagna for the first time a few weeks ago and I am absolutely raving about it. It’s hands-down the best thing I have cooked since moving to Korea. You use the zucchini instead of lasagna noodles so it’s much healthier for you (though it does still have all that cheese). I’ve actually made it twice since I found the recipe and talked about it at least once a day. I’m that proud of it.

Zucchini-Lasagna

Also, I am maybe obsessed with pinot noir. I can’t seem to stop myself from buying it every time we go to Costco or Homeplus (the only 2 stores in our city that sell wine). It’s like I’m stocking up for the apocalypse. This wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, except that Jonathan doesn’t really drink wine. So it falls to me to finish all those bottles. I bravely soldier on…

It’s finally spring in Korea which means cherry blossoms everywhere! We are headed to the Jinhae Cherry Blossom festival this weekend and running a 10K in our city which we will hopefully write all about soon (with many pictures!) on our Two Sore Thumbs blog.

What about you? Anything you are into that I am really missing out on?