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!!