Wednesday, October 7, 2015

AD 33 Review


 

You may or may not have noticed, I've been stepping back from doing book reviews lately. One, most of my book talks have been over on my YouTube channel. Two, I've found doing book reviews can be somewhat exhausting. For some reason or another, the books I tend to pick to review before their publication date have tended to fall flat for me. But, because I said I would have to finish a book I don't like.
do a review on the book, I have to finish it and write about it. whether I like it or not. I don't know about you, but I feel like reading should be fun, not a chore. Unless I'm reading for school, I shouldn't feel like I

Therefore, I've become much pickier about the books I agree to read in advance for a review.

Last year, I had read AD 30 by Ted Dekker. It ended up being one of my favorite books I had read in 2014. It was so good and I loved every moment of it. Ted Dekker is technically a Christian writer, but many of his books have gone "mainstream" because he's a Christian, but he's also a writer. He knows how to write compelling and exciting stories. Personally, those are hard to find in Christian novels. He's not afraid to tell a good story while also wrestling with heavy theological themes. If you want to read about AD 30, click here. 

When I was approached to join the blog tour for the sequel, AD 33, I was ridiculously excited. Of course I wanted to read about what happened next! So, without further ado, here is my review for AD 33.



Overview Without Spoilers

AD 33 takes place roughly two years after the first book ends. Maviah has gained a few thousand followers and has been called "Queen of the Outcasts" with the aid of Saba, her adopted son Talya, and her faithful followers. Yet, her growing power threatens the leaders around her and they challenge, her, her faith, and her family. Seeing guidance, Maviah and Saba set out in search of Yeshua (Jesus), right as he's about to enter Jerusalem for the last time.

Spoiler alert- Yeshua dies on the cross. Shocker, I know.

The Premise

The first section of this book rushed by. The last we saw Maviah, her lover Judah was in prison and she set out to become queen. When we enter this book, she suddenly has thousands of followers, her own council of sheiks, and Judah is still in prison. I don't want to give many spoilers, but let's just say a lot happens very quickly in the first hundreded (maybe less) pages and I felt a bit whiplashed. There wasn't time to process anything which had happened and I was sitll figuring out exactly what had happened in the last two years between the two books. I wanted to know how she had gained so much power and how she had met those who gave her council and get back into the world. Instead, I was thrown into the fire along with the characters and wasn't able to get my balance when all of the sudden major events happen and left me reeling. While, this could be exciting and fast-paced, to me it felt jarring. When you make big decisions with major characters, it's nice to have at least a small amount of time to recover before moving onto the next thing. I felt like it was "BIG PLOT TWIST" and then "Okay, get over it, moving on."

Once this was over though, the pacing was much better. Maviah spent much more time in the presence of Yeshua than she did in the previous book, as well as among his followers. She spent time in Bethany with Mary, Martha, and Lazaraus, and she was in the background during the events of Holy Week. (Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday, etc.)

The chapters switched from Maviah's perspective to her son's a few times. I liked seeing the different perspectives, but it was jarrings because when we were with Maviah, it read in the first person point of view. When it went to Talya, it was in third person. I wish he had either stuck with first person and had headed each chapter with who was speaking, or had made it all third person.

The Characters

We definitely had more action with Saba in this book! When I was looking over my previous review for AD 30 I had noted I wanted more of Saba because he was an interesting character. Dekker definitely delivered in this installment. I think he could have gone deeper with Saba's character, but he was much more of a central figure in this book and it was awesome to see his character and faith develop.

We also go to know Maviah's adoped son, Tayla more in this book. He was only a boy, but you could see his maturity and he had visions which were really interesting.

Petra barely made an appearance, which I found disapointing. I loved Petra in the first book and when she popped up in this one, I was excited. Then, she was barely there. Maviah had one conversation with her and she showed up slightly at the end. Being such a beloved character (at least to me), the events at the end I feel would have been much more powerful if Petra had played a larger role.

In this book we got to know Mary, Martha, and Lazarus more. I loved that! While we did see some of Yeshua's disciples here and there, it was good to get ot know other Bibilical characters we've read about in Sunday school.

Theological Themes

What I love about Ted Dekker and his writing, is he is not afraid to tackle the big theological themes and questions. Most Christian novels I've read are pretty fluffy. They touch on the big questions, but don't dive into them much. They stay on the shallow end and sometimes dip their toes in deepr. Dekker takes the characaters and readers over to the deep end of the pool and does a cannonball. I'm talking the ideas of the Old and New Adam (which I had always found confusing), linking creation to the death and ressurection of Christ, what it means to die to yourself and to live in Christ, etc. These ideas and themes are talked about in other books, but Dekker truly dives into them and exploring the way a true theologian would in a way that translates for the reader.

The words of Yeshua are taken straight from scripture (he has the references for each chapter in the back of the book) and he weaves them into conversations naturally. At times it feels a bit preachy, but for the most part, it flows well. He then uses scripture to explain scripture and puts the pieces together. Sometimes the Bible can seem like it contradicits itself or is a strange puzzle we can't figure out. Dekker was able to show how it all works together.

I also appreciated how the characters would get confused on what the message of Yeshua truly was. We've all been there when we are at church or an event and everything makes sense in that moment. Then, the moment we walk away and are back in "the real world," we get confused and wonder "Wait... did he mean this, or this?" Maviah had so many moments when she remembered Yeshua's words, but the meaning became muddled.

Overall Thoughts


The pacing of AD 33 was a bit off for me. It felt rushed at times. I wanted to get to know the characters and get lost in the world, and Dekker rushed through those parts. While I understand needing to get through the story so you can get to where the focus needs to be, it also can throw the reader off and make them detatched from the story. Then, when big events happen, the emotional impact isn't quite as strong as it could be.

I loved getting to know Saba, Tayla,  and other characters more. They gave a new perspective on these Biblical events.

The theological themes and points were fantastic. I am always in awe of how Dekker is able to convey them in his writing.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed AD 33. It wasn't quite as good as the first book because of the pacing, but absolutely a great addition to this series.

I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Release Day: October 6, 2015

You can purchase AD 33 via these links:

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1SNnBwg
Indiebound.org: http://bit.ly/1MVf8Wp

For more information about AD 33click here. 

To read about Ted Dekker and his journey to writing AD 33 (which is super interesting), click here

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

If You Say Pumpkin Spice Three Times...

Ah, the first day of fall. (Or Autumn, whichever word you prefer to use.)


While the pumpkin spice latte has been here for a couple of weeks now, today is the official start of fall. 

And I'll admit it, I'm your basic white girl when it comes to fall. 

Yes, I love pumpkin spice lattes (and the salted caramel mocha! Seriously, you could argue it's even better then the PSL), scarves, boots, hoodies, warm leggings, and crunchy leaves. This has become a bit of a trope in the blog world, and on the Internet in general. We white girls in the suburbs love fall. 

Poke fun at it all you want, but all things fall are my guilty/not guilty pleasure. And why shouldn't they be? 

This is all of the awesome fall brings to the world:

- The extreme heat is gone. I HATE long summers and extreme heat. Having a bit of summer is fine where the temperatures get really high and you can wear tank tops and hit the pool/lake/beach a couple of times. But after that, I'm done. Heat is uncomfortable, sticky, gross, and you can only take off so many pieces of clothing to make yourself feel relief. In the fall? Just throw on a sweater and you're good. It's awesome being able to step outside and feel a crisp breeze instead of choking on humidity. 

- The clothes. I always love the idea of spring and summer clothing. The light colors and flowy tank tops and such. But in reality? I just look better in fall clothing. Bring on the rich dark colors, blue jeans, and scarves. I can rock those. And don't even get me started on how much I love my boots. 

- Fall means all of the best holidays and seasons are coming! (At least here... sorry Australia and the rest of the southern hemisphere. Spring brings the best holidays and seasons for you!) You got Halloween, NaNoWriMo, Thanksgiving, NaNoWriMo, Christmas is just around the corner, NaNoWriMo...

- Food. Along with the awesome holidays and such, you get great food. (Other than the drinks at Starbucks.) Also, soup! I love me some soup. Yeah, I know, I can eat soup whenever I want. But, I always feel weird going to Panera Bread and ordering a hot soup when it's sunny and 95 degrees out in the middle of July. I just do. Maybe it's just me. IDK IDK. Besides, now all of the Halloween candy is out. Who doesn't love Halloween candy? And since I'm an adult, I can go and buy some bags and Mom can't tell me I have to save it for Halloween. 

- Fall TV shows! Need I say more?

So, yeah. I love me some fall, and I don't even feel bad about it. Tease me, call me basic, and make all of the memes you want. (Because they're true.) I don't mind! I'll just be over here, drinking my Starbucks, searching for Halloween/vampire themed things, wearing a scarf, pretending this is me:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Speak Up! | You Gotta Werk


It's the first Friday of the month, which  means it's time to link up with Amber and Annie for Speak Up! (Click on their names to watch their videos and/or to link up too!) This month's topic: Work


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

As Enchanting as Harry Potter?

Recently on Facebook, I found this article about 15 Book as Enchanting as Harry Potter. Naturally, my curiosity got the better of me and I had to see which books they suggested. It was a good post and I wanted to share my thoughts. I've read some of the books on their list and I am going to share with you my opinions on said books and if they are as enchanting as Harry Potter as they claim.

For the record, nothing is as enchanting as Harry Potter, so let's just get that straight.

Just reference this very accurate meme.

I'll never get over you Harry Potter!

The first book they mentioned, I was so excited they put on the list because it is one of my all time favorites. I'm talking, Harry Potter is first, this one comes in a very close second.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


This book -THIS BOOK- is so beautiful and lovely and enchanting and magical. This book gets me. Seriously, I read this book and in my head I'm all "YES. This is me."

But I do know it's a very different writing style and it's not everyone's cup of tea. But if you do read it, and you don't like it, just lie to me and say you did. That way I won't cry.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman


In just that last few years I've become a fan of Gaiman. I wish I had started reading his books sooner because they are so wonderful and fantastic! However, American Gods is not the book I would have picked for this topic. Don't get me wrong - it's a great book! (In fact, I've heard rumors of it becoming a TV series.) I really enjoyed it. The books I'd pick for this topic though by him would have been Neverwhere (my fave), Stardust (so enchanting and quirky!), or The Graveyard Book (one of his middle grade books, but so wonderful!).

The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis


Now, it's been awhile since I've read the entirety of The Chronicles of Narnia. But The Horse and His Boy? Really? From what I remember, this was my least favorite out of the series. So, let's just put all of The Chronicles of Narnia on this list, okay?

The Princess Bride by William Goldman


A classic! Granted, most people just know the movie, which is just fine because it's amazing and brilliant and hilarious. But the book is awesome too.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray


I'm really glad this author is getting a shoutout! I really enjoyed this trilogy, and in fact, it's one of my sister's all time favorites. It's interesting, and dark, there's magic, and a girls boarding school. The same author is also working on a new series called The Diviners and the second comes out later this fall.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


Okay, I haven't actually read this book yet. But I've heard nothing but good things and if you are a gamer this is the book for you.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


This book - THIS BOOK YOU GUYS - is SO SO GOOD! This is one of my all time favorites by this author. I could read it over and over again.

It's the perfect book for the recovering Harry Potter fan. Or the fan who will never let go. Like myself. Or for people who live on the Internet and don't know how to interact with real humans. THIS BOOK UNDERSTANDS US. It's cute, funny, awkward, romantic, and touching. Also, Rainbow Rowell is coming out with a new book Carry On which is the fanfic the main character (Cath) in this book wrote. How awesome is that?

Also - were you a Draco/Harry shipper back in the day? Your time has come!

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith


Okay... another one I haven't actually read yet. But it's on my shelf and I plan on reading it soon! Also, I've heard it's awesome. Even people who typically don't enjoy mysteries have liked this book. So, I'm really excited to read it and see how the queen (JK Rowling) does in this other genre.

Some others I'd add to the list:

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas


I discovered it just in the past year and it's ruined my life in the best way possible and the fourth book is being released September 1. I want time to go faster so I can read it. I also tell people, while the first book is good, the others are even better. So, if the first one isn't your all time favorite, just keep going.

Also, I might have a girl crush on the main character Celeana Sardothian. There - I SAID IT.

The Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie N Holmberg


I also discovered this trilogy in the past year and fell in love! It's magical, there's a school, romance, scandal, adventure, and no love triangles. What more could you want in a trilogy?

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher


Urban fantasy at it's finest. Friends of mine who knew how much I loved fantasy recommended this series and I'm so glad they did! If you haven't read this series yet, get on it right now.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer


It's retellings of fairytales in a futuristic dystopian society. But instead of Hunger Games or Divergent, think more Firefly. The final book is being released in November and I'm outrageously excited.

What are your thoughts? Have you read any of these books? Have you read the others on the list that I haven't? How do you think they stand up for us Harry Potter addicts who want more? Are there others you'd recommend?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

An Apology to Old Friends

I've been noticing a trend in my Timehop app lately. As I scroll down through the years I notice the ones from my early years of Facebook. Do you remember those days? When we would actually write on one another's walls and have conversations that way? Not using Facebook messenger or tagging them. Actually writing on someones wall outside of the yearly "Happy Birthday!" message. Those early posts are filled with messages and notes and conversations from my college friends. About how we can't wait for the semester to start so we could see each other again or what we've been up to over the summer or making plans for the Weeks of Welcome staff. It's been making me nostalgic for my college friends.


On top of that, one of the college friends I have kept in touch with just moved away. It all came about quickly so I didn't have much time to process before she actually left. She'll be back in a few weeks for a wedding, but the fact remains, she and her husband won't be living here in Chicago anymore.

The same day she moved, some of my other college friends were in town. Originally, they were going to be at church with us, but then plans changed.

This made me realize what a terrible job of keeping in touch with people I've done in the years since graduating college.



I think of the core group of people I spent my time with and how important they were to me. We went to one another's weddings and drove across country to go, and texted and Facebooked, and back in the day AIM was our life saver during the summers. I swore we all would be friends for the rest of our lives and see each other all of the time after graduation.


But that hasn't happened.

I see people's Facebook updates and others whom I was friends with and how their lives have changed. People who seem to have similar situations as me where they left ministry or have had some of the same struggles with our Synod. I wish I had gone to them for support. While the end result may have been the same, at least I would have known I wasn't alone.

All of this is part of life and growing up and being an adult. We lose touch with some friends and we make new ones. I love the new friends I've made since graduating. But I notice how I've lost touch with those in Missouri as well, and I haven't been gone all that long.



Even the people who are here in Chicago, I notice I haven't been the greatest of friend to them since I've moved back. Yes, we see one another and all of that, or we go to church together every week, or hang out time to time, but I know I can do a much better job.



It makes me miss the girl from my Concordia days. Don't get me wrong, I love how I've grown and changed. I make more of an effort to be who God made me to be and not what others might think I should be. I love the group of online friends I've made through blogging and YouTube and the experiences I've had. There are a lot of ways I'm glad I'm not the girl I once was.

At the same time, she was much more dedicated to the people in her life. She made more of an effort. She had fun and didn't crawl into a hole as often or get anxious about social situations the way I do sometimes.



So, this is my apology to my friends of the past. Those from high school and college and Missouri with whom I've let go of. I'm sorry. I want to do better, and I don't know how I'll do better. But I want to. Please don't take my lack of keeping in touch as a lack of caring - because I do care.




Have other people noticed this as they've gotten older? How do you balance maturing and having new experiences, but still valuing the people from the past? How do you make time for people and keeping in touch? Do you ever feel like some of the ways you've changed aren't the best?

I'm also sorry I couldn't post pictures of everyone. Womp womp.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Speak Up! Restoration

It's Speak Up Link Up time again! This moth we're talking about restoration.

Don't forget to link up and watch the other videos! http://www.mrthomasandme.com/2015/08/speak-up-restoration.html


Have a happy weekend!!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Problem with Christian Pop Culture

Last year, I read the book AD 30 by Ted Dekker for a book review.  I loved it! Then, a couple months ago I was emailed about reviewing the sequel which is coming out later this year, as well as the novella version of AD 30 in anticipation of it. Since I had loved the original so much, naturally, I said yes.

Although, in my head it was more like...


They sent me the ebook version of the novella right away so I could get to reading.

Released August 4, 2015

I'm going to be completely honest ... I'm so disappointed.

What I love about Ted Dekker is he's a Christian writer, but he's not like a Christian writer. You know, full of thin plots and characters with a bit of Jesus thrown in. He writes. I mean, really writes. His stories are full of intrigue and action, his characters have depth, and his discussions on faith are deep and intense, but done in a way which isn't preachy. 

The abridged version of AD 30 took away all of that. I couldn't even get 25% of the way through it. The story was stripped down to it's bare bones and dumbed down.

I'm sure the purpose was to get hype for the next book and to get a shorter version so people weren't so intimidated by how big the book was. But that didn't need to happen. Yes, I understand big books can be intimidating. But do you know what else is a big book?

Game of Thrones. 

Have people stopped reading that?

Nope. 

Harry Potter.

Have people stopped reading those?

Nope. 

Lord of the Rings.

And wait... people are still reading those too!

Outlander anyone...?

Granted, these are all fantasy. But still. People are willing to read big books as long as they're good.

I feel like this happens over and over in Christian pop culture. Our movies, books, music, etc. Something can be truly great, but then it gets watered down "for the masses" and to become "more appealing" when it doesn't need to be. AD 30 is an amazing book, and I truly feel even people who aren't Christian would enjoy it because it's a good story. Because Ted Dekker is an awesome writer. 

I am excited for the sequel, AD 33. It's going to be awesome because the original book was awesome. Don't worry about the abridged, just read the original. 

Basically, if it's not broke, don't fix it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Yesterday Was Tuesday, Right?

Working at a hotel I've learned, really messes up your schedule.

The times when everyone else is off work, I have to work. When I'm off, everyone else is at work. Getting off early for me means I get out on time at 11pm. Weekends no longer exist because hotels are open (and very busy) on the weekends. Especially in the summer. Hello, wedding and family reunion season! Saturdays become Mondays and Mondays are a welcome breather.

Basically, this is a really long way of saying I had totally forgotten today was Wednesday. Between work and getting reading for VEDA (SIGN UP HERE!), what day of the week I was on completely left my brain making me feel like Sam Winchester.


Only... it isn't Tuesday anymore. It's Wednesday. 

I'm just confused. 

Next week guys. NEXT WEEK I will have a for real actual blog post up. 

In the meantime... how are you? Tell me about life! Do you get as confused about what day it is as I do? Maybe I need to get back to my old job at the preschool so I can have calendar time every day so I can learn the days of the week again. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Novel of Great Importance

First, have you signed up for VEDA yet???? Click here to sign up!

Okay... shamelss plug over. Moving on.

So much of writing is sitting around trying to find the perfect word or the perfect phrase. I feel as though people think writers just sit down at the keyboard and the words and phrases fly out of their fingers with ease as they say beautiful and important things. That it's natural for them.

I don't know about you, but most of my writing is me staring at the blank screen thinking of the right words. Imagining scenes in my head, then typing it out and realizing it reads nothing like I thought it would, deleting everything, and starting over. I pull up thesaurus.com to try and find new words to use that might describe what I want to say in a better way. I pace circles around the house to try and figure it out. Then, sometimes after only getting a couple paragraphs on the page, I put it away and decide to think about it another day because I'm just writing myself into a rut.

When you write, you feel this pressure to have each word and sentence perfect. Each one needs to be meaningful and important.

Recently, the author VE Schwab wrote this on her Twitter:

"So many people set out to write a Novel of Great Importance. I just want to write stories that make people forget where they are. I want to make readers miss their stop. I want to make them smile and gasp and cheer. I want them to have fun."


When I read that, a wave of relief swept over me.

Lately, I've read a couple of those Novels of Great Importance. They have beautiful words and sentences and metaphors and say very important things about life and society. I read them and I agree saying "Yes, you are a great writer. Yes, this is very important. Good job. Gold star." Yet, I'm bored.

I don't lose myself in the story and forget where I am. I don't miss my train stop. I don't laugh or cheer or cry out loud. When the book is over I close it and say "Yup. That was very important and had a lot of important things to say. What's for lunch?"

Yet, we writers think this is what we need to create. The Novel of Great Importance. Or, perhaps, the Blog of Great Importance. We sit down and think "Yes! This will be the blog post where I have some great quote everyone will be talking about and will be pinned for everyone to be inspired by! This is the blog post that'll go viral and everyone will see what a great writer I am!"

That's not how it's supposed to be. The best writing, is the writing that comes from you. If the Novel/Blog of Great Importance isn't your style- don't write it. Pieces that are funny, or silly, or filled with fantasy and adventure, or about fashion, or art, or whatever it is you enjoy are the best ones. Because they are what you want to write about.

The bloggers who stay true to themselves and don't try to be something else are the ones I still follow. The novels that make me laugh and cry and get lost in their world, even if they are the "best" of literature, are the ones I will continually pick up and read.

This doesn't mean they aren't important or don't have fantastic messages. I keep going back to Harry Potter and how many important messages there were in that series. Yet, I wasn't bored to tears.

Last night I watched Legally Blonde and was reminded about how on the surface it's a silly girly comedy - but I find it to be one of the best feminist movies. The musical is the same way.

This is my writing advice. Write what you want to write and don't feel like you have to live up to some standard of what is considered "great" or "important." It doesn't mean you won't have writers block or days when you struggle to find the words. That will always happen. But write what you want to write. Whether it's a fun blog post, fanfiction, a silly story, about fashion and makeup, your family, or whatever. If it happens to be deep and meaningful, that's awesome. If it doesn't seem that way, who cares? Your best writing will come from you, not from being pretentious.

Writing Wednesday Button

Linking up with Erica Jaquline for Writing Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

VEDA Is Coming

August is two weeks away. Can you believe July is half over? It's crazy pants!

But you know what it means, right?

VEDA IS COMING!

What is VEDA you ask?

It is Vlog Every Day August. A bunch of people on the Internet get together, brainstorm topic ideas, and then in August we film videos based on those topics every day and comment on each others videos. For the second year, Kirsti and I are teaming up to coordinate the WeBlogWeVlog VEDA and this year we are joined by Nico and Katherine. We've been emailing back and forth planning and plotting and sharing ideas. We have A LOT of thoughts for this year.

I first started doing VEDA a few years ago and it's how I got into vlogging and YouTube and it's so much fun. I've made a ton of friends during it I can't wait to see who joins us this year.

If you've thought about vlogging, VEDA is a great place to start because you have topics given out and a bunch of people who are right there to watch your videos.

To sign up, click here!

Next week, we'll be getting a Google Doc ready so participants can all brainstorm what topics we want to discuss in August, then we'll also be posting a participant list so we all can find each others YouTube channels and Twitter accounts to subscribe and follow. Also be sure to follow WeBlogWeVlog on Twitter for more updates.

It's going to be totally awesome!


Aw, it's been awhile since I've made A Very Potter MUsical reference and used a GIF for them. My heart is happy.

So... go sign up!

And yes, I realize this whole blog post was a shameless plug/ad for VEDA. But I didn't have any other ideas for this week. SUE ME.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How I Journal

I've always loved journaling and having blank notebooks and journals. I love filling the pages with my thoughts and ideas and even when I have a journal I'm already using it's fun to wander around the journal section of the store to see what they have.

The idea of sitting down and writing in a journal every day is the dream. Writing out my hearts desires, my dreams, my failures, my fears, and having my memories there on the pages for me to go back and read upon later is what I've always imagined what journaling should be. I have old journals and diaries stored away in a box somewhere and from time to time I go back and dust them off and relive my childhood and high school days.

As I've gotten older, I haven't had the time or dedication to writing in my journal every single day. It's been said to help boost your creativity a habit to get into is to free write three pages each morning when you get up. I tried to do this for a little while, but I skipped one day and then one day became three days then three days became three weeks... you get the idea.

Not long ago, Amber over at Mr. Thomas and Me wrote a blog post about bullet journaling and how much she loved it. Then, Amanda over at Musical Poem said she gave it a try and she loves it too! I gave it a look and thought I would try it too.

My method of journaling isn't quite bullet journaling, but more inspired by it. Honestly, it works and it's been awesome! When I have the chance, I still write out "real" journal entries, but I've really enjoyed using my journal more as a "catch all" for all of the random things through my day.



The Type of Journal I Use

There's nothing like a good leather journal. The one I've been using for awhile now is pictured above and I got it at Barnes and Noble. It's a soft leather, the pages open flat well, and there's a ribbon to use as a bookmark. But I don't use leather exclusively. In fact, the next journal I have lined up for when this one is all used (which is soon) is a Snow White one a friend got me for my birthday last year. So, whatever works for you!

Calendar


I've found when I'm planning out my blog and vlog, I need a calendar! I used to just schedule out what I was going to be doing for the blog and my YouTube channel on my main calendar, but something about it didn't feel right. So, I started to hand write a calendar in my journal and it works so much better. I highlight, make notes, etc. and it's lovely.

To Do List



I also have found I love having a to-do list. It helps to keep me organized and be sure I am on top of things and don't forget what I need to get done. Since what I need to do at work doesn't seep into my personal and home life, I leave that out, and I only make a list of personal things I need to do. Social media stuff, people I need to call, what songs I want to practice on the ukulele, etc. I have a to-do list for each week and I label each item at the end by which date it needs to be done by. Then, there is a little box next to each item so I can check it off when I'm done.

Brainstorming



When I'm brainstorming, especially for a writing project, I do much better handwriting it than anything else. Making lists, drawing maps and diagrams, etc. I've dedicated a couple pages in my journal for novel brainstorming. There are also pages with all of my ideas for blogging and vlogging. Most of my pages in my journal are of this nature. Lists, pages of quotes I find that I want to remember, brainstorming ideas, writing projects, my To-Be-Read lists, books I've completed, etc.


Organization

Because I use so many pages throughout the month, I had to think of a way to keep it all organized and know where everything was. In bullet-journaling they suggest having a table of contents. I've tried this in the past for journals, and it's never worked. This time, I made my own system.

First, I keep the ribbon bookmark with my calendar so it's there and ready the whole month.



Then, I got another bookmark which I keep at the next available page so when I need to start something new, it's at my fingertips and I don't need to go searching for a blank page.


For everything else, I use little sticky-note tabs.


I label them with a word or two of what their page contains, and I stick them on the side.


Someday, I hope I can do more of writing daily journal entries, and I do try to when I can. But, I've found having this system for journaling is wonderful too! It gives a little snap shot of my day-to-day life and what I'm thinking about and doing, and it keeps me organized. It's been awesome!

Do you journal? Do you have any sort of system that you use? How do you keep yourself organized?

Join Erica Jacquline for Writing Wednesday! Coincidentally, she's talking about writing morning pages today!

Erica Jacquline

Friday, July 3, 2015

Speak Up! | Independence

It's Speak Up link up time with Amber and Annie!

This month we're talking about Independence.



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On Being Brave

I truly admire brave people. Those who are willing to step up and take a stand and risk it all. The people who can lay it all out there and be honest with everyone about their struggles The people who face discrimination every day and still walk out the door with their head held high. I admire those people. I wish I could be one of those people.

More often than not, when I do try to be one of those people, I end up blurting out something inappropriate or out of ignorance and it blows up in my face because I didn't think before I spoke. Therefore, causing more damage than doing good.

We're privileged to live in a time where we can witness some truly brave people. Among all of the battling, arguing, rioting, and fear, we can still see people standing out and reminding us there is hope. Taking down flags, getting married, embracing their true selves, or becoming the first African American woman to be a principal in a ballet company.

It's an exciting time to see the progress being made.

Friday morning I turned on my iPad to find rainbows flying across my screen with the news of the marriage equality ruling in the USA. People celebrating and turning their Facebook pictures into rainbows. For the first several hours, at least on my end of the Internet world, everyone was happy. Then of course, later, some of the backlash came.

I quietly retweeted one thing, and made a small statement on Facebook. Trying not to get noticed too much but also toeing the line of where I stood. Which, that in it of itself is annoying that we have to pick a side. No matter which side you pick, someone is going to think you're the bad guy. But that's another rant for another time. I liked a few comments and posts, but tried to stay relatively silent. The last time I had publicly stated something, there had been consequences and from then on I tried to be much more subtle about my opinions.

Later, a friend messaged me. We were in the same program in college and she figured out long before I did, that working in a church wasn't for her. We've talked in the past about how our views differ from most of those in the church and on Friday she thanked me for being so supportive of her opinions when she put them online. In turn, I told her I thought she was the brave one because she outright said her thoughts, while I just "liked" the comments.

The next day, one of my former college roommates changed her Facebook photo to be a rainbow. I'm not going to lie - I was surprised. She had always been more on the conservative and traditional side of things when we were in school. (I always respected her thoughts because I knew she had thought and prayed about them for a long time instead of just saying "That's how it's always been and I don't like change!") Then, as I thought about it and some of our conversations since graduating, it didn't surprise me all that much.

It got me to thinking. "If she can say something... maybe I can too." With that, I changed my Facebook picture too and braced myself for the backlash.

She and I talked after and we talked about our trains of thought on the matter and since we both are former workers for our Synod, some of the fears we had. Or, in reality, the fears I had. While I don't formally work in a church anymore, being vocal about opinions different than those in the church can be a scary thing.

She reminded me how the fears we have must only be a fraction of those who actually have been fighting for marriage equality, or haven't come out yet, or deal with the discrimination every day. She also encouraged me to be brave because "I bet there's more of us waiting in the wings!"

To be honest, I'm sure hardly anyone batted an eye at my Facebook profile. In fact, those who know me probably already knew my thoughts, or could at least guess.

All through high school and college I worked so hard at having the perfect Christian girl image where I read my Bible every day and upheld good values and sang my heart out in worship and had the perfect prayer for everything. Since then I've been letting go of that image and letting myself be me. Part of me wonders if I was the only one I was fooling.

But I figure, the least I can do is show my support for those who need it. Because, it's not about me. It's about showing them "Yes, I support you. I'm here for you while you fight the battle." Maybe, in a small way, I'm fighting it with them.

I'm still not the bravest person out there, and I probably never will be. In fact, in recent days I've admired a friend of mine who has been posting blogs putting it all out there about her emotions and past and I haven't even had the guts to tell her how much I admire it, and how I wish I was a better friend to her.

Through all of this, I've been thinking about a song from Hairspray. It was for the movie version and they sing it in the credits. "We've come so far but we've got so far to go..." While the musical mainly focuses on racism, the themes still apply to other rights as well.

We've all made so much progress in our country and in our world. (Did you know in Mozambique this week it is now legal to be gay? The USA isn't the only one making progress!) We should celebrate it and embrace it! If we don't, we'll get lost in hopelessness. But there's still a lot more to do. Let's all be brave, even if it is in our own quiet way. Then little by little, we'll keep making progress.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Remember Who the Enemy Is

We cross the room, but in the doorway, Haymitch's voice stops us. "Katniss, when you're in the arena," he begins. Then he pauses. He's scowling in a way that makes me sure I've already disappointed him.

"What?" I ask defensively. 

"You just remember who the enemy is," Haymitch tells me. "That's all. Now go on. Get out of here."

- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins 
Chapter 18



I've been recalling this scene a lot lately. It's a moment through the rest of the book Katniss has to keep reminding herself of and she doesn't completely understand it while she's in the arena for the second time. I think it's advice we all need to remember from time to time.

Our society has been in an uproar over so many things lately. Racism, sex scandals, terrorism, religion... need I go on? We've been trying to process all of these events happening, figuring out why, getting defensive, and we point fingers at why and who's fault it is. The witch from Into the Woods voice rings in my head "Of course what matters is to blame. Somebody to blame. If that's what you enjoy placing the blame if that's the aim give me the blame."


I know I've done it. In the heat of the moment you get angry and type things or say things because you're trying to sort through it all and then end up saying things you might not mean. Attacking somsone out of our pain and our anger thinking "if only they get justice!" or "we need to get rid of this person or this thing" and it will make it all okay again.

We forget who the enemy is.

Not long ago on Tumblr I saw a post comparing riots to The Hunger Games and how we should support those causing the riots. Which, maybe we should, or maybe we shouldn't. I don't know. But, a lot of people forget how in the Hunger Games books, Katniss still had compassion for the citizens of the Capitol. Because they weren't the enemy. 

Those who shoot others, who riot, who destroy, who uprise, who hurt, who abuse, are just people. Not that there shouldn't be justice or anything like that - of course there should be. But it's easy to dehumanize them isn't it? They're still people.

Hank Green made a video a few weeks ago about his favorite feelings. He mentioned how one of them wasn't seeing other people fail, even if they deserve it or you don't like them. You think it'll make you feel good, but it doesn't. It's just sad. (You really should watch the video, he says it way better than I do. Click here.) Because they're people.

They aren't the enemy. 

Who is the enemy? Who do we blame then? 

Racicm. Ignorence. Hate. Being narrow minded. Corruption. 

And dare I say it? Satan.

I'm not one to talk about Satan and such a whole lot. Bob Goff explains it best in his book Love Does. "When I think about satan, my thoughts go to how Jesus interacted with him in the desert. Jesus spoke with him for just a few seconds and then sent him away. Satan was a manipulator who wanted to control God, but Jesus had a relationship with God that satan didn't understand, and Jesus had no problem telling him off and getting rid of him. I think we should do the same. That's all I have to say about satan. He gets too much airtime already." 

But ultimately, he's the enemy. 

I'm not saying we can't get angry and justice shouldn't be served when people do terrible things. We people can do awful things.

But we're all still people. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ah, The Good Old Days of Blogging

Do you remember the good old days of blogging when we had random awards and tags and we would nominate our favorite bloggers for them? It was a fun, simple time, without sponsors, ads, Pintrest, and Google Reader was a thing. We just blogged because it was fun and if someone happened to earn money from it, good for them! But for most of it, that just wasn't even on our radar.

Good times, right?

Well... I got nominated for the Liebster Award by Angie over at A Life More Kawaii!

It makes me think of those days of blogging and how much I miss that time period for blogging. Also, I didn't have a topic for today so this is perfect timing!

Here's what you do:


  1. Link back to who nominated you. 
  2. Answer the Qs the nominator asked you. 
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers (preferably with less than 200 followers)
  4. Create 11 Qs for the 11 bloggers in step 3. 
  5. Notify your nominees!
These are the questions Angie asked me!
1. Quick! There's a zombie outside. What household item do you brandish as your weapon?!

Eek! Zombie???? We all know I'd probably be the first to die in a zombie apocalypse. Let's be honest. But to try and defend myself... (looking around the kitchen)... I'll attempt to throw a wooden chair at it.

2. What would your RPG class be? 

So, I totally had to Google what that meant. LOL. It's Role Playing Game Class. I actually never really got into role playing! A friend of mine in high school tried to get me into Dungeons and Dragons, and I remember having a lot of fun. But for some reason I never continued. You'd think loving theatre and story-telling so much, I would have been all about it. But nope. Therefore, I'm not sure!

3. What is your dream pet?

My dog Bandit of course! But seriously, I just love dogs. Dogs are the best. I'd go for something more exotic, but there is no way I'd be able to tame them. So... dogs. 

4. Do you have a favorite superstition? 

If you say the name of the Scottish play in a theatre - I will go crazy on you. I was never a believer, but then... OH BUT THEN! When I was in an outdoor show of Romeo and Juliet, our young Romeo said it and we were rained out the first night. The SAME ACTOR said it AGAIN when we were doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the Narrator lost her voice AND the jail for Joseph broke and almost hurt everyone on stage during a performance. 

A couple months later, I was co-directing a show and an actor said it before a performance... I flipped out and made them step outside, spit on the ground, and spin around three times. (That's how it goes away.) Because.... NOPE. 

5. What color represents you?

Pink!

6. What is your favorite myth?

Ooooooooo. Good question! I've actually always been fascinated by Greek Mythology. 

7. If you could perform one act in a circus, what act would you perform? 

I always felt like the tightrope walkers were so pretty and graceful!

8. Who is your current favorite fictional character?

Just ONE?????? Well, you know, Harry Potter, obviously. But of all time other than him, I think Snow White. It's my favorite Disney princess and my favorite fairy tale ever since I was two. So, we'll go with her.

9. Stealing this from Joie... What Pok√©mon are you?

Sigh... I'm a failure at my generation because I know nothing about Pokemon. Seriously, all I know is "I choose you Pikachu!" 

Seriously. That's it. So... Pikachu?

10. If you could bend one element (air, earth, water, fire, energy), which would you bend?

And another thing I don't know much about! :-( But the idea of bending energy sounds awesome.

11. What is your favorite moment, so far, from this year?

Oooooo. That's an AWESOME question!

The first thought that came to my mind was New Years Eve. I went to a Frozen themed party in Boystown and it was one of the best New Years Eve celebrations I've ever been to. Seriously, you haven't lived until you've belted Let it Go with an entire gay bar. 

I also FINALLY saw the musical Once at the Oriental downtown a couple of weeks ago and it was just so perfect and lovely... I wish I could watch it every single day. 

Now for MY questions:

1.  What TV show are you LOVING to binge watch right now?
2. Tell me about your dream home.
3. What's the best book you've read so far this year?
4. If you could run away and live in another country for a year, where would you go? Even name the exact city if you know!
5. I'm hungry. If I'm coming over to your place for lunch, what are we going to have?
6. Tell me about, or show me, your favorite photo you've taken so far this year and why it's your favorite.
7. What was your favorite part of summer when you were a kid?
8. If you could live inside of a movie, which one would it be?
9. What vacation do you wish you could repeat?
10. We complain about blogging a lot - what do you still LOVE about?
11. And I'm stealing from Angie because this question was just so good- what has been your favorite moment this year so far?

Okay, time to nominate other people!

Okay, I'm just going to nominate some of my favorites - if you want to participate in pretending it's the early blogging days, that's awesome. If not, that's cool too cause I know several of my nominees probably have their whole blogging schedule down and know what they're doing. lol

Michelle from Wide Open Spaces
Brittany from Pines and Palmettos
Sandy from Just Sandy
Amanda from Musical Poem
Amber from Mr. Thomas and Me
Jessica from A Coccoon of Books
Nadine from East &
Dayna from Princess Burlap
Bonnie from The Life of Bon