Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - The Music Edition

Usually, the last day of the month I post a playlist of the top ten songs I've been listening to this month.

However, since it's New Years Eve, and I posted earlier this week about the books I've read in 2012, here are the songs that have been playing almost non-stop all year.

(Tomorrow or sometime later this week I'll do a whole year wrap up post... hopefully...)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

ALL OF THE BOOKS - AKA I Say the Word "Excited" A Lot.

Here are the questions so YOU can answer them! If you don't read a lot of books, adjust them so you can talk about TV shows, movies, games, YouTube, blogs, WHATEVER. You also can ask me other questions about books. I tried to keep the video as short as possible so I had to cut out a lot of commentary.

1) How many books did you read this year?
2) Which book surprised you the most?
3) Which book were you the most disappointed in?
4) Did you start any new book series?
5) Did you wrap up any series?
6) Which book had your favorite cover?
7) What books are you looking forward to in 2013?
8) Do you have any goals for 2013?
9) Any other books that deserve a shout out?
10) What are you currently reading?
11) What are your top 3 books for 2012?

Also, I received a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card for Christmas - and I don't know how to spend it! Check out my to-read list on Good Reads and let me know how you think I should spend it. Or give me your own book recommendations!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Warning: this is the first time I've tried blogging from my iPad... We'll see how it goes. Therefore, if there are mistakes and mishaps, I'm sorry.

The last few weeks I've been a bit overwhelmed. Which I guess can be common around the holiday season. Everyone is busy and stressed because of various things. December is simply a stressful time for a lot of people. Working at a church, I'm no exception. Although now things have calmed down now that my duties at church are over and I'm home with my family.

I haven't been overwhelmed with busyness however.

A couple of weeks ago I felt overwhelmed by darkness.

The darkness of this world.

By the way, this was before the tragedy in Connecticut.

I was talking with the jr. high youth in my Sunday school class about it one week, and we noted that while Christmas/Advent is a happy time, we tend to notice the sadness of the world more during this season. I talked to them about how with weather and the time of year, December is the coldest and darkest time of year. We talked about seasonal depression and how the darkness can bring people further into their sadness.

We notice the poor more so this time of year, and how much or little we have.

People who feel alone in the world feel even more so around the holidays.

Losing loved ones is hard enough, but when it happens in December there is an even darker cloud which covers our hearts.

And yes... the sting of violence is much stronger in December than it is at other seasons.

One of the occupational hazards of youth ministry, or any ministry and several other occupations actually, is that sometimes you learn more about people than you really want to.

I remember when I was in college and in my ministry classes I sort of looked forward to this. I didn't enjoy hearing then hurts of other people, it broke my heart. However, it motivated me even more than before to go into ministry. To help others.

Now... a lot of times I wish I could shut my ears and close my eyes. There are times it's just too much. The darkness is overwhelming.

Yet... That's part of what I love about Christmas and Advent.

When we are surrounded by darkness, we notice a single lit candle all the more.

We might be surrounded by darkness, but all we need is a beam of light from a flashlight in front of us to guide our feet.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ... The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:5, 9, 14

That light shines with hope, peace, joy, and love. Whether it is the full sun beaming down on you, or a simple candle in a dark room.

Maybe you love every moment of December and getting ready for whatever holiday it is that you celebrate. Which is awesome. Maybe you dread this time of year and are just waiting for it all to be over. Or maybe you're somewhere in between the two extremes. Any of these are fine.

Wherever you are this Christmas Eve, however you are feeling, I hope you see the light which shines in the darkness.

As Hank Green said in his video responding to Connecticut, remembering that for every gun shot that is fired there are hundreds of more hugs.

The light that brings us hope. The constant light that comes into our dark world, no matter what happens or how we are feeling at a certain moment.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Warm and Cozy

With the weather down here in Missouri turning cold and blustery, my traveling back up to cold Chicago for Christmas, and the world ending today... some coziness is just what's needed.

I clearly don't know how to take a self-portrait without making a silly face.

Linking up with Nicole and Neely for their Cozy Holiday Link-Up.

How are you staying warm and cozy now that winter (FINALLY for some of us) has come?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Restoring Our Faith In The Season

I have a lot of thoughts that have been going through my mind over the past week. I was going to post about them today... but there has been such an overdose of "heavy thinking" lately with Friday... I decided I'll post it later. Maybe on Wednesday or Friday or something.

However - Mondays are miserable enough. We need something happy. Something to help us restore our faith in God and humanity.

Books of course!

Books have always been special to me - even at Christmas. When I was a kid we had a big sack which had a picture of a teddy bear with a Santa hat on him, and inside were our special Christmas books that only came out of hiding after Thanksgiving.

Even now, if you looked carefully at my apartment photos, you'll see that I have included Christmas books in my own decorations for the season.

I want to share with you four of my favorite Christmas books. These books are WONDERFUL and always help me to get into the Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Deck the Halls

It's been about 2-3 months since I moved into my new apartment.

And I haven't shown you all pictures of it yet.


However - since I just cleaned this weekend for the youth group Christmas party and it's all decorated, I figured this would be an awesome time to show it off to you all!

Enjoy the picture dump.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I Need To Get Better About Doing Things On Time...

So... remember how last month I did that whole thing where I wrote 50,000 words in one month? Yeah... about that.

Here's my wrap-up video for NaNoWriMo... 10 days late.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I'm Turning into an Old Lutheran

This past weekend I went shopping - which isn't usual for this time of year. (Yay for getting to be Santa! Or in my case, one of his elves. And yes that was a short joke.) My first stop was to buy an Advent Wreath and I went to our local Christian bookstore.

As I walked in, the first things I saw were snowflakes, snowmen, mugs, plates, stockings, little books... all of those "kitchy" items one normally finds around Christmastime that people feel like they need to fill their home with Christmas cheer. (Which all you really need is to sing for all to hear... haven't they seen Elf? My goodness.) Yet... no Advent wreaths to be found. One of the workers had to help be find one because they were literally in the back row of the store.

It bothered me.