Friday, August 26, 2016

The Friend Diet in 7QT



This Summer has been a hard, hard Summer.  It has been hot, and we've been almost equally as excruciatingly busy. I hate to sound negative. But, as usual, I am making New School Year Resolutions, such as Save! Get Fresh Air! Diet! along with every other mother. ;) It isn't Lent, and it isn't a New Year. But it is a new Fall, and I for one, need a plan!  In the interest of full disclosure, I thought by now that I would have recovered from having Annabel a year ago. The truth is, I don't feel unhealthy, but I don't feel really fit either. In honor of her first birthday, I'm going on a diet to shed the last ten or so pounds of baby weight that  have been carrying just a minute too long.  Let's be perfectly honest: I am in average health, and I want to be in great health.

I am calling this The Friend Diet. Why?  Food can become a comfort, a solace, and a pleasure. But it can also take the place of people in our lives, because it is so comforting, we desire it more than anything else. According to our faith, if we are eating more than our healthy share, this is called Gluttony, one of the seven deadly (mortal) sins.

So, instead of making food our friend, let's take care of our health, and instead Be a good friend, to others!

My Fall Diet: (The Friend Diet)

My Top 7 Requirements:

1. no Beer (only the occasional glass of wine with dinner)
2. no Fast Food restaurants
3. Spinach  & Strawberry smoothies, usually for lunch
4. Pretzels, bananas, carrots for snacks
5. Pepperoni, black beans, & nuts for protein
6. Eggs for any meal of the day
7. Lots of rice, curry, low sodium teriyaki

Also, an Addendum:
-soup is ok if low-calorie and low-sodium
-vegetables, salad are welcome options
-no breads or bready foods like thick pretzels;), similar to Atkins
-low calcium- very little cheese and milk  because of caloric intake
-no sugar


I am taking it a week at a time. Whenever the kids/family have pizza or breadsticks or spaghetti, I will have an alternative meal, such as low-sodium soup, Thai or some type of low-calorie curry dish with rice. If they eat fast food or fried food, I will be a friend to myself and make something that falls within my guidelines for this diet. If I'm tempted by donuts or pop-tarts, I will curb cravings with a healthy snack like fruits and vegetables.

This week I have a meal plan:

Monday: Eggs for breakfast, Strawberry smoothie for lunch, Thai curry rice for dinner
Tuesday: Eggs for breakfast, Spinach smoothie for lunch, Pepperoni and plain rice and black beans for dinner
Wednesday: Low cal Oatmeal for breakfast, Spinach smoothie for lunch,  tuna salad for dinner
Thursday: Oatmeal for breakfast, salad for lunch, low sodium vegetable soup for dinner, glass of wine
Friday eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, sushi for dinner
Snack options on all days: crispy pretzels, carrots, bananas, and lots of water

Today being Friday, I'm happy to report that I stuck to the diet, and success can be chalked up to my meal plan, prayer, and talking through it with Stephen each night for accountability and moral support. I would usually say things like, "I'm on day 5. I've only cheated once in the past five days. I had a beer while you were gone Tuesday night at your workout class." And he would encourage me, "That's great!" and sometimes say, "Well make sure you watch the carbs in your snacks, those pretzel crackers have x amount of calories or carbs."

My treats built into my plan:
Protein shake with milk (this is super yummy)
Sushi
Fancy Falafel salad
Going out to dinner for a gourmet (& low calorie) meal

Now to work on my meal plan for next week! (with the help of Pinterest, of course! See my Dietary Restrictions board on Pinterest, here). It should look very similar to the first week, but I plan to include some variety, so that I continue to choose good food and I do not burn out on my plans.

As for exercise. I go for a walk everyday. My goal is to go further and to go faster. I have the habit of daily walking (and that's going really well), but I will not promise daily jogging. I will start by alternating between walking and running until I am in good enough shape to go for a real jog or run. I haven't been able to really run a mile well since before having children. (AKA College). I also plan to do the 7 minute workout everyday and two times back to back as often as I can.

With this combination of wellness in body, I plan to become stronger spiritually through the sacrifices this Friend Diet will require. If you're wondering how this differs from Whole 30, the answer is I'm not cutting out all alcohol or all dairy. I'm limiting them greatly. And you guys, I don't even have to SAY that sugar will not be my friend on this Diet! Ha! But this diet is unique, as it is something I feel that I can handle and carry out to the end.  :0)

What about you? If any of this resonates with you, leave a comment and tell me how you stay in good health, or hope to improve your health this Fall.
linking up with Kelly and the other quick takers at This Ain't The Lyceum for 7QT
SaveSave

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why I Will {Never} Vote Trump


As many of you know, I'm a registered Republican voter (currently), but I have had some deep reservations about the situation during this current election season. And so, once again, I must make my caveat that politics is not the name of my game. But.... it's almost September in an election year. So speak now or forever hold your peace, right?!

Friends, family, readers: today I'm here to tell you why I cannot in good conscience vote for Trump. Yes, I am Catholic, yes I am Pro-life. And until now, I've been a solidly Republican voter. But folks, just because I have up until now kept my allegiances with this generally Pro-life party, that does not make me an idiot!!!!!

It is with buckets of scandal that Trump has come this far. And I'm beyond disappointed in him. Let's all wash our mouths out with soap, our eyes out with  earwax, our faces with blood. Because that's how much sense this political race makes.

Will I ever vote for this man that I am convinced is not (at this time) a good guy? Let me lay out just a couple of reasons why I would *never* "Vote Trump":

1. He is dirty, which is indicative of problems with self-control.

He is indecent. He has eluded to the size of his penis in debate. He has said in many public arenas (and many shoddy American publications) that "Melania isn't disappointed." She is his second wife, for goodness sake. Folks, I would like to look the other way on this issue. I would like to ignore it and not bother bringing it to light. But I have serious problems with this attitude, because not only is it disgusting and unbelievable to discuss private matters in public, penis size ensures nothing and speaks zero to Melania's satisfaction.  (in bed).

(Did I even just WRITE THAT?) (HOW DARE HE USE THIS LANGUAGE* IN FRONT OF THE EARS OF OUR CHILDREN?!)

(insert THROW UP emoji here and shaking my head in SHAME)

2. Second, I cannot in good conscience vote for Trump, because he threatened to run as an Independent, which was a major Faux-Pas to the Republican party and the other nominees.

This speaks to a bigger issue. He is unkind. To threaten in front of the country and your running mates that you would "become an Independent," is to say that you will turn your back on every one of those other candidates and flat-out use your money and (sketchy) power to deliver you to the back door of the White House.

What else does that say? It says your loyalty is not with the true Republican party.

And not much of Donald Trump is loyal to the party anyway!

Some may say in defense, "His constituents don't care." Well, that's because many of the people who have followed him this far have left the true values of the party behind in the dust. This isn't just a predicament: it's a scandal. Read more ~ Conservatives stand against Trump.**

3. He is racist and he isn't Pro-life.

His answer for immigration laws is to build a wall, ban Muslims, and shoot people. How is this Pro-Life?  He is denigrating toward the love of the poor, and also those different from him. Of course he makes awkward comments like "I love Hispanics!" under a guise of love, but threatens to deport them, and really, what about this right-wing extremist views  fascism is loving?! He wants to monitor Muslims in a database and "do things that were unthinkable a year ago." #spoiledamericanspeaks #fearbasedreasonisnotreasonatall

4. He appeals to emotions, which ensures he gets the majority on his team.

Donald Trump uses fear, he uses the tactic of arousing emotions to win people to his side. There is nothing wrong with emotions (read: Paul Simon singing at the Democratic National Convention), but these "emotions" have to be backed up by something other than hate and fear. ***Right now, his bullying measures up to demagogue politics and emotional ranting.  At least Hillary can clearly articulate her views, and stand up to political nonsense with discourse that holds weight and makes sense in the sphere of her colleagues (other serious politicians).

5. He is ill-equipped to run for President.

Donald Trump isn't running for Governor of Iowa. He is running for President of the United States. Folks, he's a charlatan. ****And if you buy his crap-ola, you are deeply ignorant of what is really going on in our country and how we are viewed internationally. His solutions to some of the deepest problems in our country are flip-flop. He isn't staunchly Republican or Pro-life. This should grieve and disturb us: we are putting our faith in a man who isn't much better in this camp than his running mate, Hillary.

Do you really want to vote into the White House someone who is not equipped to run our country? That is plain ignorance speaking.

He is not running for a small role. We need someone kind, caring, decent, and open-minded, because our country is a very diverse place. In every city except maybe Nashville, foreigners are inching out of minority and into majority status. We can't base this country on fear, hatred, and flashy casinos disguising a disgusting man with several layers of self-loathing in his heart. I'm not arguing for anti-Catholic religious un-freedom. I'm arguing that Church and State are separate- more in this election than any before it- and we need to keep our heads and stop worrying about infintesimal issues that apply only to a tiny minority of people in our country.

Money can't buy love, and it certainly should not buy the Presidency. Because, folks, the White House is not a business. But what is more important is that Donald Trump is not a man of prayer. Even if we poured several gallons of disinfectant on this man, he would not come out clean.

Prayer is what this nation needs. We need to pray for humility and for leadership. But when our country is already oozing diversity, we do not need a dirty, fear-based monotone to direct our next (every) move. We need someone strong, with a strong family (and by that I mean strong politically- someone who knows how to take the stress of the job in stride), and someone who does indeed value Community and humility.

Honestly, I think we can find that in Hillary.  Imagine if Melania Trump were running for President. The Trumps are probably not Feminists, and that's because from all accounts, they seem more like air-heads. In Hillary, we have someone intelligent, well-educated, and experienced in politics.  Sadly, Hillary doesn't seem to show a strong footing when it comes to morality about ethics and Pro-life matters. Chalk it up to ignorance; it is a sad situation.  Maybe only the White House could be the proper schooling for that deep seed of immorality sprinkled throughout her campaign.

She just needs to be schooled on the Pro-life ways and the Pro-life bandwagon.  And that may yet be the next echelon in our country.

Here's the thing: it is easy to bash Hillary. I understand, and I've been there, done that.  It is easy to feel that someone "isn't on our team," and thus do a lot of bashing against her.  However, if there is one thing I've learned from blogging, it is that lessons must be learned from experience, or, "on the job," as they say.

Some may say that because of Hillary's beliefs, she is an incompetent loser. I find this far from true. We must look beyond legalism in this case: strictness in all areas. If we are "strictly Pro-life," then we might lose a handle on what it looks like to be a good Presidential candidate. This would be, in my estimation, foolishness. The alternative to to smarmy is smarmy?!

If we douse Hillary and Donald Trump with disinfectant, AKA, the White House, who will come out clean(er) clean(ish)?

Sadly, that's the question I'm asking these days. It is not a question I want to be asking, but sadly that's the one I'm left with.

In closing, I would say that of course, we all want to be right. I may not be right on all of these points I've made. Feel free to chime in in the comments sections. I have eager ears! ;)

*http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/03/politics/donald-trump-small-hands-marco-rubio/
**http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430126/donald-trump-conservatives-oppose-nomination
***https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/08/19/trumps-ugly-and-dishonest-new-tv-ad-shows-he-isnt-changing-a-thing/?utm_term=.8b402de52e99
****http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/charlie-sheen-donald-trump-wedding-gift_us_5764fb23e4b015db1bc98a7d

linking up with the awesome (go follow!) Beth @ Our Pretty Little Girls for Tuesday Talk #tuestalk

Friday, August 19, 2016

An Update: Back to School in 7 QT

Oh my gosh, you guys. Getting ready for school-- especially when you have three going for the first time- is such a TASK. In the past two weeks, we have celebrated a birthday (Anders), gone shopping and run #alltheerrands, gone on vacation taking all 5 kids on an airplane to Minnesota and Wisconsin, and started school. I'm taking deep, deep breaths. #yogapants

So how did this go down and how did we break it down? I knew you were going to ask. :0)

~1~

First, we established that we would have a week full of errands in preparation for school. Nothing about our normal routine that week, just errands. We took out a tiny bit of extra cash, because errands. For one solid week. Thankfully shopping is *not* our normal modus operandi, other than our $1-for-each-kid splurge at the Dollar Store every Friday.

Great clips was $11 for each child. Grand total (since I had taken Anders the week before) ? 40 including tip for two hairdressers.  I wasn't sure what we needed at Goodwill, I just felt like we needed to take a look around in between going to expensive shoe stores and Sweet Frog frozen yogurt.

so coordinated. ;)

I dragged them all to Goodwill... hair freshly cut and Great Clips tattoo freshly administered by Molly~ Notice the adorable matching shirts, one of which is sporting a splash of blue paint. #welovegoodwill

We ended up just getting a couple of much-needed shirts for Annabel, a couple of t-shirts for Anders, and some pajamas.  If it feels funny buying non-school clothes in the Fall, you don't live in the South. ;)  But ya'll? Grand total =  $5 flipping dollars. #ridic.  We went for Payless shoestore, and bought UP with the $20 black Mary Janes for each girl. Total for the day including Fro Yo? $75. Well done, self.

~2~

Next, we had to go to Cecilia's Closet at their school to find used uniforms that would work for this year.

Trying it on for size... how we do ;)
Aaaaaand, this is what it looks like having 3 children in Catholic School!!!! :-D
And you guys, I just have a brag about our school. We bought all of their uniforms used, and we bought shirts, gym uniforms, and sweaters... and the grand total was barely over $100. Ok, it was $103. What even is that?! Ridiculous, that's what it is!!! 


~3~

Then we had to take a break, so we decided to go to Wisconsin. #laughcry Which I detailed in this post.

~4~

When we got back, we had Doctor Visits and buying all of their Ballet clothes!! A new week, a new budget. I'm not going to pretend Ballet clothes are cheap. But thank God for insurance and very healthy kids! Not gonna lie, my kids have been in utterly perfect health for as long as I can remember. I completely chalk that up to daily bath time. #cleanestofcleankids #knockonwood #iseeyoufall #coldseasonaroundthecorner


~5~

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!

Wait, I have a 3rd Grader (?!?!)

And what?! Frances is a Kindergartener (?!)

My precious Pre-K-er (!!! is that a word?)

Let's see if we can get one with her smiling...

There we go!


~6~

aaaaaaaand Mom----> at home with TWO kiddos

~7~

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.


It's a beautiful thing. ;) Really.

Bonus take: I don't even have to buy Fall clothes until well into the middle of September here. We'll have some cool nights, but that's Fall in Tennessee. We have all four seasons, but full swing Fall isn't really until near the end of October. #autumn #ifyourebeingfancy

Bring it on.
Adding my link to Kelly at 7QT

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Of Travels and Trunks


~Oh Hey!^ First of all, if you haven't, click over to my blog to see the new design! I am so excited and I'm sending a million hugs your way, Rhonda Ortiz!* ~

Now, on with the post.
How do you have a good vacation? Do you have any guidelines in place? Do you plan ahead? Do you wing it? Do you choose a cool place and hope it delivers? I'm happy to report that we went on a trip  to Minnesota and Wisconsin this past week, and it was MAJORLY fun and well-planned by my cousin Carmen! It wasn't Disney. But it was great.


I wanted to engage the five senses on this vacation. I wanted to experience something instead of living vicariously through others' travels and trunks.  Let's see how I did! lol

Taste

The main thing I desired was to be present. I wasn't looking for gourmet food or expensive, fancy restaurants on this trip. My uncles and cousins went fishing almost everyday we were in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We ate fresh fried fish that they had caught and filleted that same day. It was delicious! We were able to make our kids resist getting too many souvenirs by buying them Lindt chocolate balls the last day. I think it worked! ;)


See

Besides the crowds of airports and restaurants, we saw many sights. We did a bit of sightseeing, but most of all, we escaped the crowds by going to Wisconsin to stay at a beautiful retreat center and lodge called Heartwood. I'm happy to say I saw lots of beautiful views of nature, lakes, and trails. We were in the land of 10,000 lakes, as a matter of fact!


Smell

There is nothing like escaping the oppressive heat of Summer in the South, only to find out that the weather for the week up North would be in the 70's and lower 80's. I don't know how many times I thought about moving there. The fresh air and crisp, clear blue skies of the Northern Woods were amazing. The cool breezes refreshed my soul.

My nephew Grey
Have I mentioned how much I adore being an Auntie?!




Cousins Emma (2nd cousin once removed- her Grandma and my Mom are first cousins), Evelyn, and Liam (first cousins, once removed- their Dad is my first cousin)


Hear

We were hoping for quiet. And although babies scream and the crowds provide a dull roar, we all found a definite break from the normal. For myself, I'm happy to report that the clatter of dishes was not mine to hear this past week, except for one evening, when I was assigned dinner chores.  Being in the woods provided sounds of bugs, birds, and rain. I listened to my sister read our children a book. The clash of everyday din was far, far away. I also loved hearing my Minnesota cousins say "Taco." It sounded like, "Ta-coal." Rhymes with Stockholm.  #iguess #laughcry #wink

Como Park & Gardens- see more from our trip on instagram 
(I'm still catching up~ laugh cry wink!;)


Touch/Feel

Souvenirs come in the form of woodland creatures, as well as shells, quartz, and sand on the bottom of our shoes. Happiness is feeling a(n actual) cool breeze in August. Happiness is to hug my sister and cousins and niece and nephew, to hold a cup of coffee and my Kindle, to feel my feet resting on an ottoman in front of me-- these are the familiar and amazing feelings of being on vacation and traveling. It was actually so cool out, that Molly hung out with her cousins in the trunk of a van. #neverpossibleinTN

All in all, my goal was to be present to my family, put my iPhone down most of everyday, hang out with my sister and her kids, see my cousins and extended family, and take just a few pictures of it all. While engaging my five senses, I felt the Spirit moving and giving us all life. I breathed it all in, and took a deep breath of thankfulness at the end. And I virtual high fived Michael Phelps every evening.
My Dad cracking a joke the last day/night we were there~ eating at a restaurant in the Mall of America~ he said, "This would give Chuck E. Cheese a run for its money"**

I wanted to be present, not distracted. I want to be with my people. I want to engage my five senses in travel and life bursting with activities and conversation. I want to appreciate place, people, and the things we see and do.  In order to do these things, will turn off my phone if I need to. And pack a smaller trunk. ;)

^Marseilles!

*If you are looking for excellent design, work ethic, and a reliable, friendly person, I highly recommend you visit the website, RhondaOrtiz.com or follow her on Twitter (go do it!) Rhonda Ortiz has a lot to offer other than headers, and if you are in any way interested in a site redesign or something design-related, check out her portfolio. ~end credits~



**#allthecheeseineed

Linking Up With Tuesday Talk

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

An Announcement...!!!


Hey Everyone! Today, instead of the usual Tuesday Talk post or article, I have a big announcement! :-)

{drumroll please}

.... So, after much thought and a little consternation, I have decided and will go ahead and officially change the header and name of my blog! Of course I did not make that decision today. lol  The title will now and from now on be- simply- Tacy Williams Beck.  I think all of my posts already have this tagline.

Now, I know. I know! I am of the mind that too much change is a bad thing. I have contemplated differing names for this blog, and nothing felt right. I hate to think another change is headed my way! However, trying out different fun names has become tiresome. Yes an in fact, I have already done that many times in the past, and I'm ready to find something more permanent! ;)  Fortunately for you, I'm not making a huge change- I'm just going to my name, which is, in fact, already my .com.

I have decided that I do not fit the "Picture a Skyline" title any more, and that's why I will just be my name from now on. I'm making that the title of this online space, because I decided that it fit the bill and I was ready to simplify!!! ;) I'm not changing anything else, in terms of design, really!  I did update the pictures on my About profile page if anyone would like to check that out!

I am hoping that it will be *less* confusing, and not more... as it is my blog and web address already.

I am also happy to report/share that I am hoping that this change is a little bit of a renaissance when it comes to my work in this space. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but, we shall soon find out! lol

I am looking toward the future with anticipation of grace, being myself, joy, love, and the Spirit of God living in my heart and dwelling in this space. And I just feel that this is the next right step, and as someone I respect once said, "Do the next right thing." That is what I hope to do!!! haha

I really do love you guys, my readers. I feel so blessed to be a writer and to have the great privilege of sharing my thoughts and ideas in this space. It is a blessing in my life, and my readers are no small piece to that beautiful puzzle. ;)

And now... I'm headed on a two-week break/blogging hiatus. We are getting on a plane and going to Minnesota and Wisconsin (YAY!!!)* which means we're pulling a Grace and taking all 5 kids to a Family Reunion {!!!} Yes, you can pray for me/us!!).  When I get back, I will be putting three out of our five kids in school, and I will be blogging under this new title! Hurray! :0)


Isn't it actually pronounced "j-if"?

Now I am under no illusion: I know it's really no big deal, and that change is natural, normal, and fully appropriate in this world! But, I just wanted to let you guys know, like I do! I've put a lot of thought into this one. ;)

While I'm gone, here are some articles from my blog that have received the most comments:

What I Would Say If My Child Were Gay (10 comments)

The Catholic vs. Protestant View of the Mass  (16 comments)

My Kids Were Bad at Mass: Yes I'm Coming Out With It (7 comments)

Review: Veggie Tales in the House (7 comments)

And here is my contribution to Dappled Things:

The Little Oratory

A lot of my articles do not receive comments. But I do know that people are reading based on my stats. I appreciate your thoughts, but please know that I appreciate your readership, whether or not you feel compelled to leave a comment. Thanks to Rhonda Ortiz for the design help!!!! (Highly recommend her, FYI!)

And now, especially if you are reading this in a feed reader---> two weeks from now when I'm back in this space under a new title, click on over to the blog to see the new deal/digs, and if you have not already done so, go subscribe to tacywilliamsbeck.com in your feed reader!!! :0) 
Thanks guys.
*Did you know my Mom is from Minnesota? And we're getting to see my sister and family who are coning from Seattle
adding my link to Tuesday Talk

Friday, July 29, 2016

How to Know When You Are Being a Hypocrite~ A Quick Little Quiz(zzz)


As I was unloading my groceries from the store that morning, a thought popped into my head.

"The creme de la creme of hypocrites is to not eat that, not say that, not do that, not read that."

I don't know why it came to my head that way on a Monday morning! ;) I don't know why it had anything to do with unloading groceries from Walmart. ;) ;) ;)

But I think it is something worth contemplating.

Why?

Why do hypocrites thrive off of saying, "This, not that" ?

Because then, we don't have to live by the Living Word of God.

Then, we don't have to live by the Spirit.

And then, finally, we don't have to love.

Jesus told us exactly what hypocrisy is in His Word.



Matthew 23:1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a]wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

I'm not trying to throw anyone under the bus here. But if there's someone I have problem with it is this blog on Patheos, called "The Friendly Atheist." Here's the problem in this article, "The Hypocrisy of 'Progressive Catholics' written by Lauren Nelson. The problem is that when we wrap ourselves in the "There is something wrong with the Church, therefore, I won't join in on that hypocrisy," as she explicitly says she believes when quoting here:
"By staying Catholic I feel liberals hypocritically give tacit approval to behaviour and attitudes they find offensive."
 In this philosophy, touted by Lauren Nelson, we are apparently less hypocritical if we don't try to abide by what the Church teaches.
I will be completely honest. I think Patheos should take articles like this down.  This does not fall into any credible belief system.

Is she an atheist?  Apparently so. She blogs under the title, "The Friendly Atheist" on Patheos. But what is her true Belief System?

What is her true "Religion"?   She has to have a belief system, and this system of beliefs is, ultimately, her religiosity, whether she knows it or not.

I think that anyone who puts themselves above the religion of Jesus Christ should stop and take a quick "Am I a Hypocrite" test.

Here are 7 {quick-style} questions:

1. Where do I find my righteousness? (is it in food? Is it eating or not eating a certain thing? Is it my looks, my organization, my peppiness?;)

2. Where is my heart? (Do I love money? Do I think I am above the love of money?)

3. Am I Happy? (Do I honk and pass people on the interstate? Do I have inner calm and peace, or inner anger and bitterness?)

4. What Am I Craving? (Am I lonely? Do I crave friendship? Do I crave beauty? To what lengths will I go to get what I crave?)

5. Do I Have True Friends? (Can I be vulnerable with others? Am I above others, or alongside them? Do I compete with these people or love these people?)

6. What does Jesus say about all of this? ;)

7. What can we do?  There is nothing we can do (in the face of the violence in our country, the sad politics of our nation, the horrible bullies on TV who boast of wealth and beauty, but do nothing). There is nothing we can do....

...until there is something we can do.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

I can't tie this post up in a pretty little bow... But I can respond to this statement: There is nothing we can do... by saying,

There is nothing we can do...


...until there is something we can do.

What does "doing something" look like in the face of this catastrophic mess our country is in? What does "doing something" look like in the face of radical Islam?

Serving God might look like:

~having another baby

~serving your neighbor by bringing him or her a hot meal

~volunteering at a mission or another organization;)

~giving a small tip to someone who is overworked and depressed

~giving away the shirt on your back, to the homeless, to the one in need

~loving the children you have with your whole heart; being present; being faithful.

Serve your neighbor, love your neighbor. This is the best test for avoiding Hypocrisy Stew. Reach out, reach down (if your pockets are deep), and reach in, to find out where God is calling you to use your true gifts, your true talents (if they are not). He has given you these talents, and he longs to bless you and your talents if you will only let him! Do not stay in the stagnant pool of rationalism, which cries to make Reason the goddess of his or her time, talents, money, and ultimately, his or her heart.

Are you happy serving God? If not, then you're (being) a hypocrite.
Joining up with Kelly at 7QT and yesterday, I posted my Monthly Recap

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Monthly Recap vol. 35~ July 2016 & Music Obsession and Some Notes on Finishing Novels 1st


Welcome to my monthly recap, where I dish on books, what we're watching, links, and occasionally my recent musical obsession. Read on...  (Actually only have those 4 categories this time! oops!)

~Reading~

31. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

I do love me some Mindy Kaling. As former writer (and actress) for The Office, she is truly funny and she indeed has a winning smile and personality;)  I watched some of her show The Mindy Project, and I liked her in it most of all. So thus I was interested in her book. As a funny memoir, it did not disappoint. As a self-help book, she seemed a little lost and lonely to me. Also, I would personally give this book credit for being a fantastically fast read. That is owing to her humor and her precocious  style, I'm almost positive.

32. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This was unexpectedly good!  I enjoyed this book. It provided an absorbing story, however, there were some unnecessary tangents in the storyline that felt cumbersome. The subject matter felt a little bit unflashy and that was almost tiresome. Overall, though, the character is surprisingly likable by the end, so I suppose it was redeeming in that way. If you're interested in Swedish culture and a very angry SOB with a very slightly heartwarming twist in an otherwise sad plot, pick this one up.

34. Still Life

On episode 30 of the Read Aloud Revival podcast, Cindy Rollins represented the why read a murder mystery crowd quite well. I recommend hearing her perspective, as it is one I respect and would emulate. ;) To be honest, Dorothy Sayers was someone I really wanted to like, but I never finished Gaudy Night (though I read hundreds of pages of it).  But that's one of the few books I haven't finished in a long time! ;)


33. Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

This novel was really well written, and the pacing was per.fect for Summer.  Her perspective is extremely unique, and although I did not agree with her spiritual journey, I could not help being sucked into her journalistic style, wondering what I could learn from this viewpoint.  The ending was satisfying, and like a delicious meal, you'll enjoy this from start to finish, if you are anything like me in your taste in books. Because I have read too many longish books, I give this 5 stars simply for the perfect pacing.

~Listening~

"Marianne" by Mipso
It has, um, interesting lyrics (I have a couple of top guesses. And I don't think it is super subtle... but! I could be wrong! :0) ;)
If you want to see something really interesting, watch this very short (15 min) film about the band in Japan. And when I say it is worth watching and very awesome, I would not be exaggerating! ;)
But Joseph Terrell... could be the bluegrass (or the next) Sufjan Stephens. no. lie.
And read Wikipedia to find out where they got the title for their band. So interesting.

~Also Listening to...~
This is an excellent podcast about blogging --> The Hopewriters Season 1, ep. 5 Should You Blog?

~Watching~

all of the things we watched this month were actually super family-friendly, for which I was grateful. Looking for a Family Movie/Show selection? Try...

The Flash (the fastest man alive) superhero TV series, available on Netflix

The Great British Baking Show

Cupcake Wars

Brooklyn
an excellent film, written by Nick Hornby, about the US immigrants in NYC in the 1950's

Molly recommends Power Rangers Mystic Force

Madeleine recommends Word Party, a Jim Henson show about teaching words (vocabulary) to our kids

Frances recommends loli rock, about the power of music! ;)

~Linking~

The Scientific 7 Minute Workout @ The NY Times (664 comments?! must have struck a chord)
Lately after dinner and clean-up, I've been going for a 20 minute speed-walk, and then I do the 7 minute workout twice in a row. It has really improved my mood immensely! ;)

I've done a little listening of the soundtrack, and ... do it!!!;)

Um... >??!! phew. Glad that's over. :_-( sweating bullets ;)

~Some Notes on Reading (and Finishing) Books and Novels~

Sometimes people ask me, "How do you read so many books?" and especially, "So do you really read all of the books you say you read?"

The answer is, yes.  If I buy a book from anywhere, really, I feel like it is a waste of money if I do not read it from start to finish. If I set out to reread one of my favorite books, I need some accountability, like a book club, to make sure I do indeed finish it!

The only caveat is that I give myself a lot of grace when it comes to one genre in particular.

For novels, start to finish every single time. For classics, Grace.  That's my motto. Grace and lots of stacks of books in every room. Used book sales, Kindle steals, inherited bookshelves full of inherited books. Where to start?  How to finish even one? By doing. Make a list. Check it twice. If I check out a book like Ivanhoe from the library, and I find I have put the same amount of time "getting into it" as it would take for me to read an entire modern-day novel, I will count it as read. I might reread the abridged version to get a better concept. I say might, but that's exactly what I did!

Back in the day, I used to read Spark Notes for really really ridiculously confusing British novels or something, although at this point I feel like that's cheating, so I almost never ever go on there anymore. {knock on wood, I see your fist}.

But you will get some idea just by reading Goodreads.  Amazon has reviews too, but I wouldn't linger long on those.

Best rule of thumb is: read it all the way through. That was my rule of thumb for MiddlemarchKing Lear, and War and Peace.  I read them all the way through. I wrote my SIP (Senior Integration Paper) on King Lear, so I definitely had to read that one all the way through. And that's my rule of thumb with just about every single easy read on my list (which, lately, has been everything).

But what's the takeaway here? Long story short, skim what I would call the "antiquated" classics, if you must, but give them time. Give them time in a different way, of course. Pause over a meaningful section.  Read a touching paragraph out loud. It will do it good to give it fresh oxygen.

If you see a novel on my "Already Read" list, I read it from start to finish. AKA I've read every single book on this year's list cover-to-cover except one. The only exception to that rule in this year so far was Ivanhoe. I spent a lot of time with it and I read the abridged version from start to finish, but that was only after I found the original almost incoherent to my modern ears. But I gave it a fighting chance, and so should you.

Oh... and, I watched the movie.

;)

Classics are like that. Lost in the middle of Dickens? How many hours did you put into it? I give you the grace to put it down, watch the movie, and call it done. Dickens wrote huge, confusing books with millions of characters. Give yourself grace there. Why? Because there are other more readable books that you could be reading. Pick up the classic again later and try to forge ahead.

I do love recommending hot bestsellers and lots of other kinds of books to my IRL friends! It feels good to say: "Here, read this! I read it, it's great," and mean all of that sentence with my whole heart.  By prioritizing I am able to read four books in a month, and I really actually did read all four of those books in a month!!!! I'm an honest person for gracious sakes! ;) The secret, I think, is to read hard stuff and fluff all at the same time. ;) And pick books that you really feel a strong pull to- not the books you feel you *should* read because other people like them!!!! Finally, if you're stuck- I mean, really stuck- put it down with your whole heart, and move on, swiftly!! ;)

More later on why you should read new releases, although I'm not the best person to dish on that subject.