Monday, September 4, 2017

Books, Books, Books

Since I haven't done much this quarter other than read books, I guess I will have to talk about them a little more than I did in the last update. But it's a holiday weekend, so I can't promise that this will be my best work.

#43 read Shaken by Tim Tebow 
Shaken was a nice encouraging and uplifting book where Tim talks about how you respond to difficult times in life. It was filled with stories from his playing days in the NFL, as well as some really inspirational moments involving his various charities and work around the world. I know he may not be universally admired (why would we encourage a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and reaching for your dreams??), but I love the impact he's having on some many people through so many different avenues.

#108 read A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer
My dad has a lot of Jeffrey Archer books, but I hadn't read one in years. I really enjoyed this one! It wasn't quite a modern retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, but it made reference to it and followed the same themes of wrongful imprisonment, escape, and seeking vengeance.

#138 go to the Art Museum
I finally went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art! As you may recall, my roomie and I had previously intended to go a couple of years ago, but it was closed...which led to my "go on a spontaneous roadtrip"...which led to her car being wrecked. Good times. I really enjoyed going with Ash and seeing the wide variety of art. As not much of a connoisseur, I can't really tell you what I like and don't like. Although I probably tend to lean more toward realistic looking pieces, I basically would have to just walk through there with you and tell you if I like something as I walk by it.

#81 read More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell was a skeptic who set out to disprove Christianity but ended up being convinced by all of the evidence that Jesus really was who he claimed to be. While I definitely felt like he could have gone more in-depth in his proofs for some of his arguments, this is a good overview of some topics. He touches on how Jesus would have to be Lord, liar, or lunatic; how science fits into the argument for Christianity; the reliability of Biblical records; and the transformation of people that have been changed by the presence of Christ in their lives.

#76 read The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson 
My friend Julie gave me this book for Christmas and I finally got around to reading it. As the subtitle says, this book is about "praying circles around your biggest dreams and greatest fears." He encourages you to Dream Big, Pray Hard, and Think Long. As someone who's not super goal-oriented or a big dreamer, this was just another nudge to continue to trust God for big things in life. (Our sermon at church this week was also about the fact that I am probably setting my sights too low for what God wants to do with my passions...I may need to keep getting hit over the head with that for it to sink it completely.) Here are a few nuggets from the book:

"Nothing honors God more than a big dream that is way beyond our ability to accomplish. Why? Because there is no way we can take credit for it. And nothing is better for our spiritual development than a big dream because it keeps us on our knees in raw dependence on God."

"One bold prayer can accomplish more than a thousand well-laid plans. So go ahead and plan, but make sure you circle your plans in prayer."

"God will keep putting you in situations that stretch your faith, and as your faith stretches, so do your dreams. If you pass the test, you graduate to bigger and bigger dreams. And it won't get easier; it'll get harder. It won't get less complicated; it'll get more complicated. But complications are evidence of God's blessing. And if it's from God, then it's a holy complication."

#54 read Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews 
I have always loved Julie Andrews, but didn't know that much about her background or family life. She did not have the easiest upbringing (mother left her father for her performing partner, later told Julie that another man was actually her father, felt like she had to protect her siblings from all of the family drama, growing up during war-torn Britain), but allowed all of it to shape her and not hinder her. There were interesting technical aspects as she described her process in learning to sing and perform, as well as a backstage look at some of the shows she was in. She is fascinating and lovely!!

#121 visit Gina in the Bahamas
This was a wonderful trip visiting my dear friend Gina. Gina and I lived on the same floor at Taylor, but I hadn't seen her since her wedding almost 8 years ago. It was a great week filled with delicious food, time spent with her awesome family, and relaxing at various beaches. I also loved getting to have dinner with my other Taylor friends, Jared & Alicia. They live in Dallas and he's from another island, but they were in Nassau for his brother's wedding. It was so much fun catching up with them!

#5 read The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
#6 read Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas
#7 read The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas
I knocked out some lengthy classics from the list finally, although my attempt to read 2 books from my list each month (see: Holly Binder) required me to read 350 pages on the last day of August. Yeesh. I really enjoy Dumas' writing though (The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite book if I haven't mentioned that before), and these books didn't disappoint. They are not much like the movies- The Man in the Iron Mask in particular- but I definitely was still picturing Chris O'Donnell, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, and Oliver Platt as the musketeers the entire time. : )

Hope everyone is enjoying their Labor Day!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Only 4 Years Left!!

Sorry this is such a long overdue post (I'm sure you've been on pins and needles waiting for it), but I started it a few weeks ago and never got back to it. Due to the fact that I am now using my Holly Binder (see the last post if you need an explanation on what that entails), I am reading two books a month so I am giving you one picture of the stack I read, as well as virtually zero summary.

#103 read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
#104 read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
#105 read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
#50 read Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words by Andrew Morton
#85 read Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
#49 read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#41 read The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
#18 read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
These were all really good books, but I especially liked The Boys in the Boat. It was the first recommendation in the Andrew Luck Book Club and it was really fascinating. It tells about the Washington University rowing team that competed in the Berlin Olympics. There are so many interesting aspects of the book: the background of some of these students as they lived through the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, the technical aspects of rowing and boat building, and all of the social impacts that came with that Olympics.

#297 go to The Escape Room
This was so much fun!! We did the 1776 room in Fishers and completely crushed it. I think we had something like 15 minutes left when we finished it. We were pretty well-balanced when it came to searching for clues and solving puzzles. Next time we need more of a challenge!

#140 go to 10 Pacers games (6 done)
A big thanks to First Financial Bank again!! I could definitely get used to watching Pacers games with food and a comfy seat in a suite. Having Kimbo's company isn't too bad either. : )

#228 volunteer at a soup kitchen
Sorry, didn't get a picture of this one. Not technically a soup kitchen, but I have been super privileged to get to serve with the HS youth group at Soul Food a couple of times. It's a great ministry that takes place down at IUPUI's campus where we get a chance to help serve a meal to some of the homeless in dowtown Indianapolis. This last time the kids also packed lunches to hand out to them. I'm really looking forward to us doing this on a regular basis so that we can continue to serve together and get to know some of these men and women.

#207 dance in the rain
These kids. I no longer babysit them since Allysa is in HS now (sad to see that end after 9 years!), but I at least still get to see them since I tutor Savannah in reading. We went to see Beauty and the Beast together and it was an absolute downpour when we were leaving. Patrick was the one to suggest that I needed to cross dance in the rain off my list still, so we sprinted/danced to the car. Sorry no video, but at least you can see our wet little faces after the fact.

#145 go to an Indy Eleven game
We had such great seats for my first Indy Eleven game, especially since they scored two goals on corner kicks to start the game. It was a beautiful day and a really fun atmosphere. Ashleyne also experienced her first corn dog, of which she was not a huge fan.

#142 go to 10 Indians games (7 done)
I have decided that very few things are lovelier than sitting in the sunshine at a baseball game in the middle of a workday. In good seats behind home plate. For free. I also had an extensive conversation about what people's stories were- why they were at the ballpark on a Wednesday afternoon.

#167 exercise every day for a month
Here's a sample of what my sticker chart looks like for a month. The pink stickers represent my daily activity, which I am counting for exercising every day for a month. I'm starting to cash in on some of my rewards from my Holly Binder.

Hope everyone has a wonderful summer and goes on some great adventures of your own!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 into 2017

Just a short update to close out 2016. I have freshened up the list a little bit and I received a Holly Binder for Christmas (see below for further explanation) that is going to help me stay on pace a little better this year.

#56 read Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Riley Fitch
Julia Child was really such a fascinating woman. I knew about her some from having watched her show, as well as a little more background info I learned from Julie & Julia. But there were so many fascinating facets to her life that I hadn't realized, especially her time working overseas for the government. It is also remarkable the amount of time and attention to detail that went into writing her cookbooks. For the first one, she spent over a decade making French recipes workable for an American audience by constantly testing and reworking them. She would spend a month on just one recipe making sure that it worked with the ingredients that were available to the American public. While this biography is long and detailed (the author lists everyone who was at every dinner party they ever hosted), it's so fascinating to have such a clear look at what her life was like. Her husband Paul wrote a letter to his twin brother every day and Julia corresponded by mail about her recipes, so there is so much personal information that has been preserved.

#153 karaoke
This was actually a really fun night with a group of women from church. We went to Harmony Winery in Fishers, where they have karaoke nights. It was hilarious making friends with the regulars and seeing how excited they were for new talent to join in...which I sort of did. I do not karaoke. But I agreed to go up if our entire group participated and I could stand in the back nowhere near the microphone. We did a pretty amazing performance of Spice Girls!

#151 dress up for Halloween
I may only get partial credit for this attempt at our youth group party, but I also halfway dressed up at karaoke night as Andrew Luck (wearing his jersey and carrying a flip phone). This is high school Heather. Only partial credit because I don't still own my character shoes and I didn't get a long-haired wig. But I do get props for still being able to fit into my high school choir dress and sporting the matching rhinestone earrings and fuchsia dance briefs (not shown). I lasted about half an hour and played a few rounds of four square before I could no longer breathe and had to change clothes.

#152 go to the Jazz Kitchen

I had lots of fun having a night out with these girls. We went to the Jazz Kitchen to hear a Christmas show by the amazingly talented Scharbrough/McLaughlin clan. I've known Sarah for a long time after we were privileged enough to have her lead worship for quite a few years at our women's retreats, but this is the first time I was finally able to make it to the Jazz Kitchen. They did such a great show and I could seriously listen to Jon play piano all day long.

#194 eat only cereal for a week
I was awarded a free item as part of my Christmas present from Holly so I'm using it for this one since I'm never going to make it a whole week with only eating cereal. I am now in possession of my fancy, (mostly) finished Holly Binder. She has made these for other people too and she tailors them to your needs. For me, I wanted to focus on exercise, eating better/cooking regularly, and buckling down on my list. So she created a binder that incorporates all of this for me. It comes complete with challenges, sticker charts, and rewards! She's pretty stinking amazing.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year!!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Friends, Fun, Buried Treasure

By far my favorite thing about this 300 list is all of the fun I've had with my amazing friends. While I was having my Starbucks day, two of my good friends, Melanie and Jed, were following along with the fun and told me that they wanted to help me cross some things off my list when I went to visit them in San Antonio in April.

#127 visit a cave
I hadn't been to a cave in so long and I really enjoyed this. We went to the Natural Bridge Caverns and saw some incredible formations. Absolutely beautiful!

#122 visit the Alamo
As someone who grew up watching the Davy Crockett movies, the Alamo was a must-see while in San Antonio. Really neat to see his musket & Jim Bowie's knife and to learn more about the history of the events surrounding the Alamo. This is Melanie, one of my good friends who lived on my floor at Taylor. I had such a great time visiting them and hated having to leave. She and her husband Jed are wonderful hosts, but also make you feel like you're part of the family while you're there. Abigail is hilarious, smart, and sweet. And I swear that I love Jed too even if it doesn't look like it in this picture. It's because the stroller was cropped out of the picture. Which leads me to this...
Lillian. Oh my word. Let's be honest- Lillian is really the reason I didn't want to come home. Those cheeks! She is such a happy, cuddly, chubby little angel. I definitely miss all of those hours I spent holding her and having her snuggle into my shoulder.
#260 go on a blind date
I think for Mel & Jed this may have been less with helping me cross an item off my list and more because they thought it was really funny to set me up on a blind date while I was on vacation. Picture credit goes to Mel who was a total creeper taking pictures out the window as we left. Scott is a co-worker of Jed's who was basically told that he should go on this date because he had nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon. We went to the Japanese Tea Garden, the San Antonio Zoo, and then out to dinner (it's been 4 months so I forget what the name of the restaurant was). Definitely the most low-pressure date ever due to the circumstances, so we had a fun afternoon.
I Heart San Antonio & the Hefners!!

#45 read The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
My coworker Jan gave me this book for my birthday after her husband recommended it since he knows I love sports. Roger Kahn grew up as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and then went on to cover them as a sportwriter during the 1950s. It's such a fascinating look at how baseball was played and managed at that time, as well as a discussion of all of the hardships that black players faced in those early years of integration. In the second half of the book Kahn visits the former players to see where life has taken them since playing for the Dodgers.

#109 read Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
I don't read a lot of science fiction, but this was an award-winning book that my sister Holly recommended to me. It takes place at Oxford in the 21st century and involves a young historian named Kivrin who travels back in time to the year 1320. While they are battling a deadly new epidemic in present time, they discover that she was mistakenly sent back to the year 1348 when the Black Death was spreading throughout England. And that's all I'm going to say. : )

#58 read For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
My buddy Liz gave me this book for Christmas and I finally got around to reading it. This was the first book of hers that I've read (no, I don't live under a rock!) and I loved her sense of humor as she discussed God's grace and how it helps us to live well and deal with others in our lives. A few thoughts from her:

"Stop minimizing what you are good at and throw yourself into it with no apologies...You are good at something for a reason. God designed you this way, on purpose. It isn't fake or a fluke or small. These are the mind and heart and hands and voice you've been given, so use them."

"But when we are locked in a toxic relationship or community, spiritual pollution can murder everything tender and Christlike in us; and a watching world doesn't always witness those private kill shots. Unhealthy relationships can destroy our hope, optimism, gentleness. We can lose our heart and lose our way while pouring endless energy into an abyss that has no bottom. There is a time to put redemption in the hands of God and walk away before destroying your spirit with futile diligence. Sometimes the bravest thing is to stop fighting for something that is never going to produce a winner."

"We are not promised a pain free life but are given the tools to survive: God and people. It is enough."

#142 go to 10 Indians games (6 done) 
This is a pretty fun group of people. Several people had won tickets from the Cru 100 Holes of Golf event in May so we all went out to a game together. The rain held off, it was a beautiful night, and we won the game in 12 innings!

Karen had another pair of Indians tickets that we were going to use. This time the rain did not hold off and it was nasty all day. We did not go to the game- we went and ate some wings instead. But...I'm totally counting it as one of the 10 games since the tickets were purchased and the intent was there. : )

#154 go to a roller derby bout
This is Amy Baker aka Lay 'Em Out Lydia. She is a beast. She thought she'd try out roller derby for fun and now she's good enough that she skates with the Circle City Derby Girls. I'm so impressed with her and how she's always willing to experiment with new activities. This was my first time watching a roller derby bout and I now have a working knowledge of the sport so I can mostly follow along with the action. Also, if Holly was richer (and perhaps less injury-prone), I'm pretty sure this would be her sport of choice.

#216 make a scrapbook for Lily

Perhaps another slight stretch to cross this item off my list, but it was approved by the List Master. A poster collage is basically equivalent to a scrapbook for me and it was a bit of a frustrating process to make this actually happen (of course that may be attributed to me trying to get it done last minute). Bean & Lulu are pretty much the best aunts in the world though. We've been promising Lily a scavenger hunt for her last two birthdays and finally got around to doing it. It was a very rainy day today, but we powered through. She completed 9 tasks all over our parents' yard, got tons of prizes along the way, and ended it by digging up her treasure chest filled with all kinds of awesome loot. Lots of superhero and Star Wars things especially! The dress code was "wacky/crazy" and I am indeed wearing a handmade, quilted shirt. It was a lovely gift from two of my former youth, Emily & Amanda Blake, and I definitely don't bust it out frequently enough...especially when pairing it with plaid shorts and argyle socks.

Hope you've all had a wonderful summer!!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Halfway Done!?!

It is crazy to believe that I am already halfway through my 30s (and luckily, halfway done with my list)!! Here's the latest:

#73 read Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis
Ugh another book that really challenges you to think about what you're doing with your life. In a nutshell, Katie went on a mission trip to Uganda while she was in high school, fell in love with the country & the orphans, moved there after high school, and eventually adopted 13 girls and started Amazima, a ministry to educate and empower children. She has so much wisdom at such a young age, such a love for Christ, and a desire to follow Him in all she does. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"Thankfully, God's plans also happen to be much better than my own. You see, Jesus wrecked my life."

"Many days, I am still overwhelmed by the magnitude of the need and the incredible number of people who need help. Many days I see the destitute, disease-ridden children lining the streets in the communities I serve and I want to scoop up every single one of them, take them home with me, and feed and clothe and love them. And I look at the life of my Savior, who stopped for one. So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because this is my call as a Christian. I can do only what one woman can do, but I will do what I can. Daily, the Jesus who wrecked my life enables me to do so much more than I ever thought possible."

 "I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle. Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives."

 "Yes, that is what I feel like: one of His favorites, lavished with His love. Isn't that what He wants each and every one of His children to feel, all the time? The big God of small details loves each one of us so intimately, created each of us in His image. Each one of us is cherished. How would life change if we thought of each other as such? If each person who approached us we treated as beloved of God, cherished by God, one of God's favorite people? The God of the universe delights in you. In me. In them. Could we rest in that? Could we love like that?"

#230 find a mentor
I didn't technically find a mentor, but I did find a spiritual director, so I'm counting that. My friend Karen meets with me once a month and it's been a really great experience. The article My Journey Into Spiritual Direction by Bill Shereos, sidebars by Anita Lustrea and Lee Eclov, on Christianity Today does a great job explaining what spiritual direction entails. While it looks different for us every time, it's always a great time of seeking after God and listening to the Spirit's guidance.

#267 watch a sunrise with coffee
Well I sort of saw the sunrise...there's a coffee cup in my hand and it's getting light out. But this was the beginning of a highly entertaining, looong day. My sister-in-law Kelli had my name for Christmas and wanted to help me cross something big off my list. So she helped me with...

#274 sit in Starbucks open to close one day
Do you have any idea how long some Starbucks are open?!? 5am-10:30pm!! It was a ton of fun though. We put it out there to the Facebook world that we would be there all day and that people should come hang out with us. So here's some of the fun we had for the day...
We had various prizes we offered throughout the day for our visitors. Kenny won for being our first one!

Joanna was the winner of the best gift we received for the day- it was our first one and was a good combination of food, fun, and practical. Seriously though, our friends really outdid themselves with 21 people bringing us stuff . We got snacks, magazines, an adult coloring book & colored pencils, games, homemade pretzel bites, a song, and so much more.

My niece Kinsey is pretty stinking adorable!!

My brother Kyle & niece Lily ended up staying for hours & hours (and maybe only partly because of the free snacks)!

Sisters, sisters

John & his kids were hilarious. "Meet someone famous" is on my list, but they ran in asking for my autograph like they were meeting someone famous.

Fancy, skinny parents & my nephew Daniel made an appearance. Seriously, those curls!

The Boyds serenaded us with the theme song from The Cosby Show. They are ridiculously awesome.

#205 learn a cultural dance
I don't know what happened to the video, but my sweet friend Paula taught us the Hora (it's Jewish!). Yes, we danced throughout Starbucks for several minutes.

So that's a quick peek into our super exciting Starbucks day. If you need more details or pictures, check out my Twitter or Facebook from February 15th-16th. We had over 50 visitors and Holly added some intrigue to do the day by assigning a point system for number of visitors, gifts, etc. Usually if I cross off 15 items in one day I get 1 freebie to cross off at some point in the future, but I racked up enough points throughout the day to earn my freebie.

#250 build a fort
These are my kiddos that I've babysat for almost 9 years. I stayed with them for 10 days while their parents were on vacation, so we thought we'd make the most of it and get some items crossed off my list. We actually could live in this fort if necessary since we used 2 couches, 4 chairs, and a pile of blankets.

#144 go to a Fuel game
We also went to an Indy Fuel game and had a blast. They are affiliated with the Blackhawks and have unfortunately adopted the practice of playing the same song the Blackhawks do after they score a goal. While I feel much more knowledgeable now that I can recognize the song "Chelsea Dagger" by The Fratellis, it also gets stuck in your head for days.

#25 read The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
I thought it was only fitting to read this now since I just saw the new movie and recently saw the other two Disney versions (all three are worth watching). While there were some interesting differences- Baloo is actually the teacher of the wolves & Mowgli and Bagheera is actually a big softie- the biggest difference is that Shere Khan was dead halfway through the book. And then it started talking about a seal. What?!? I was reading it on my Kindle so I thought maybe something weird was happening. It turns out that the book is actually a collection of seven short stories (the first three are about Mowgli). The others are "The White Seal," "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" (one I'd heard of!), "Toomai of the Elephants," and "Her Majesty's Servants." Who knew?

So there you have it. I am halfway done with this blog. The grand total after 5 years...I have read 60/120 books and completed 160/300 items total. Whew. Only 140 more things to go! : ) I have also accumulated 2 freebies that I can use to cross items off my list. Thanks for sticking with me for the first half of this journey. Here's to a lot more fun in the second half!