The Next Phase

Life is a little less crazy at work during the first few months of the year – that means I’m only working a normal 40 hours a week, and with consistent timings. I also feel like I’ve finally completely settled into life – both in my little home and with my position on SET.

It takes me a while to get into the rhythm of life, and I’m very much a routine person, so when my routine is being shaken up on a daily basis, it’s hard for me to keep up with all aspects of life.

Last summer I moved (as you know), and living on my own took me a couple of months to get used to. Plus, my job was new, and that took even more getting used to. Then I settled in, and I was good. Then I changed positions at work (as you know) and once again I was thrown into a tailspin of trying to get my footing in a new way of life.

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When I was confident in my role as a SET member, Christmas Town was looming ahead of us, and the hours of operation at the Museum changed, as did the tasks of all the SET members. So, once again I had to learn a new set of activities to participate in, plus having my hours all over the map which was exceedingly fun, but rather disruptive to my precious routine.

And then January arrived, and I have that elusive and alluring consistency back within my sights. During the last week and a half, I got caught up on things that I’ve literally been wanting to do since I joined SET on September 30th. It feels so good to be able to sit down and cross things off my mental to-do list and feel the freedom of knowing I’m catching up with life.

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I know it takes me longer than average to settle into a new workplace, lifestyle, or routine, and I’ve been working at not balking at that, but rather going at a steady pace. Pushing myself outside my comfort zone is something I do on a daily basis, not necessarily because what I do is so crazy, but because my comfort zone isn’t exceedingly large to start out with. This is something I’ve pondered a lot – I think it’s partly because of my personality, and partly because I spent so many years with health issues so that daily living was outside my comfort zone.

Each morning I wake up feeling grateful and thanking God for my life. I’m so thankful I can work. I can live. I can breathe, stand, and move without the crushing weight of exhaustion and pain dogging my every moment.

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Now that I’m finally feeling settled in with living on my own, work, and my no-longer-new position at work, I’m turning my focus towards the next big thing: Mainly, finding a life outside of work.

The common refrain among my boss and teammates is that I really need to get a life and stop offering to work so much overtime and hanging out at work off the clock. So I’m trying.

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Last week one of my coworkers posted on Facebook, asking if anyone wanted to go on a hike – I was free the day they were talking about for the excursion, so I commented that I’d like to join them. It sounded like fun, and although it was totally outside my comfort zone to join an adventure when I really wasn’t sure what it would be like, I was determined to just go with the flow and not second guess my decision.

And do you know what? It was tons of fun. We went to Red River Gorge – two hours away from where I live – and the carpooling time was as much fun as the hike itself. We had delightful, stimulating conversations, shared healthy snacks, tired our legs out hiking up and down and the hills, and sat enjoying fantastic views.

This new phase of life – the phase when I bust my comfort zone walls into bitty little pieces doing “unnecessary” things – has arrived. And, although it’s not always easy, it is rewarding, and I’m thankful for the people in my life who make it exceedingly fun.

The Random Question Game

One of my favorite conversation starters has always been to ask someone what are three random facts about themselves.

I’m the kind of person who always has a boatload of randomness stirring around in their brain, so this type of exercise is exceedingly easy for me. I can easily spew out a large amount of silly, informative, or interesting things about myself (or any of my friends), but I’ve discovered that isn’t the way other people’s brains work.

Recently at work, some of my teammates and I began asking this question to other coworkers. It’s been incredibly interesting to hear the answers and has really helped me get to know the people around me better. To make the game more fun, my teammates have even taken turns answering the question for each other. Since our team is relatively small (seven people out of about two-hundred), we get to work together a lot and have lots of time for good conversations.

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Some of the random facts that my teammates have said about me include:

-I come from a big family
-That I currently live in a camper with no running water
-That I have two co-authored books (which are sold at the museum where we work)
-That I volunteer to help with various jobs too much

Some of the random facts I give about myself include:

-I once ate a small chip off a fossilized T-Rex tooth (years ago because it was too fragile to put back on the tooth)
-I slept in a tipi for nine months
-I’ve been to five continents

Meanwhile, some of the facts we’ve come up with about our teammates (or heard from our co-workers) include:

-One lady started and sold three different companies
-One guy was born in such a small town that he’s the only guy with a birth certificate that says said town
-Years ago one guy was in the army in Europe and wrote an evacuation plan for dependants that was passed by Congress
-When one lady was born, she had her cord wrapped around her neck twice
-One lady speaks Spanish fluently
-One lady’s mom was named after a candy bar that her mom enjoyed while being pregnant

Getting to know people through random facts about themselves is so much fun. I’ve worked with some of these people on a daily basis for the last several months, yet when you start asking for random facts, you discover a whole new side of them.

What are some random facts about you?

Historical Fiction for the Win {ON WINGS OF DEVOTION}

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Title: On Wings of Devotion
Fiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

All of England thinks Phillip Camden a monster–a man who deliberately caused the deaths of his squadron. But as nurse Arabelle Denler watches the so-dubbed “Black Heart” every day, she sees something far different: a hurting man desperate for mercy. And when their paths twist together and he declares himself her new protector, she realizes she has her own role to play in his healing.

Phillip Camden would have preferred to die that day with his squadron rather than be recruited to the Admiralty’s codebreaking division. The threats he receives daily are no great surprise and, in his opinion, well deserved. What comes as a shock is the reborn desire to truly live that Arabelle inspires in him.

But when an old acquaintance shows up and seems set on using him in a plot that has the codebreakers of Room 40 in a frenzy, new affections are put to the test.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Did I read the back cover blurb before requesting this book for review? No, of course not. All I did was read the first book in the series – The Number of Love. You can read my gushy review for that book here. That pretty much sums up why I jumped on the chance to get this book for review when I found out the release date.

And good news for you! This book can totally be a stand-a-lone. It will only give minor spoilers to the first book in the series if you read them out of order which is a huge plus. The books contain a lot of the same characters (as well as guest appearances from other series) which will make your heart do a happy dance if you’ve read those other books.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

December was one of my most busy months to date with long work hours and a lot of life happening, therefore I didn’t get to talk about this book as much as I wish I could have with y’all. It also meant I had to separate my reading time to over the course of a week, rather than downing it all in one gulp. And yo, folks, that was hard to do because I didn’t want to put it down.

With her delightful writing style, thoroughly developed characters, intriguing plot, and phenomenal world-building skills, Miss Roseanna blows the reading world away once again with a fantastic book.

Crack the book open and you’ll instantly be whisked away to the world of World War One, viewing life from both the civilian and military side of things. I highly recommend you give yourself several hours of reading time before you sit down with this book, because you won’t want to put it down.

This book was a tale of loyalty, selfless caring, and showing God’s love to others. Arabelle is a nurse who is wholly devoted to helping others – be that a hard-to-love father, a faithless-human-who-I-won’t-name-cause-of-spoilers, her patients, random strangers, and everyone in-between. I’ve always considered myself a loyal person, but am exceedingly thankful that I haven’t had my loyalty tested to the max like Arabelle. Her emotions were so easy to understand and relate to, and I rooted for her the entire book.

Camden – the main male character – wasn’t my favorite character, but I don’t think he was supposed to be. He’s thoroughly written, has highly redeeming qualities (among his black-hearted ones), and has a family who I really liked.

Most of the time when I read a book that changes perspectives I have one perspective I like the best, but in this book, everything flowed seamlessly and I enjoyed getting to see the world no matter who’s eyes I was looking through.

The spying element was different from the last book, and I’m still not sure how I felt about how one of the plot-trains ended, but it was still well-done.

CONCLUSION With Slight Spoilers

SPOILER: From the back cover blurb y’all can assume that Arabelle and Camden are romantic interests in the story, so no spoiler there. My issue with their relationship is that Arabelle is a Christian throughout the book, and Camden isn’t. The Bible talks about how we shouldn’t be yoked together unequally, etc… and so it always bothers me in Christian fiction when this type of relationship is a common element.
END of SPOILER

As for the rest of the book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend this series (and Miss Roseanna’s previous series) to anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction or wants to give it a try.

I can’t wait until the next book by this author comes out!

RATING

I’m giving On Wings of Devotion 4 out of 5 stars. I’m so grateful for the generosity of the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this book so I could review it and share it with y’all.

Oaks of Righteousness

Amusingly enough, if you were to ask me what one of the biggest changes in my life was last year, one of the first things to spring to mind is that I went from being a night owl to an early morning person.

I keep contributing that to the fact that I moved out of my bustling childhood home where introverted me got the most quiet time late at night, but in reality, that’s not the case. See, it was near nearly a year ago – before moving had even entered my realm of possibilities – that I started my very solid morning routine that has become my favorite.

And, it was with the beginning of said routine that mornings began to be my favorite. Each morning I get up, make my bed, get ready for the day, brew myself a mug of coffee, then snuggle up with low lighting, a fuzzy blanket, my Bible, prayer journal, and a good, non-fiction book to study. Then I settle in for rejuvenation of the soul.

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This time is special for me because it’s before the rest of the world is expecting anything from me so I don’t have to reply to texts, worry about being late to anything, or engage other people in conversation. It’s simply time for me to spend with God and grow, seek, and learn.

A year or so ago I had a conversation with a friend where I expressed frustration at not being able to see bigger and more apparent big things happening in my life. It felt like I was treading water versus making ripples that would affect the world like I wanted my life to. She (wisely) pointed out that maybe this is my season of life to dig roots down deep and be faithful in the little things.

That was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten, and I’ve thought about it often in the intervening months. Now instead of worrying that I’m not leaving an impressive legacy, I’ve stopped trying to jump on the wheel of quick success and instead focus on digging roots deep.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,

And provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3

The End of the Magi

I have two days off in a row, and I’m not even sure what to think about that because this happens so rarely. I’ve had Write book review on my to-do list for multiple days now, but let’s be real… When a book doesn’t blow you away – but doesn’t actually have anything wrong to rant about – well, it can be hard to sit down and tackle said review. But here I am.

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 384
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Title: The End of the Magi
Fiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Following his vision of the coming Messiah, the prophet Daniel creates a select group of men who will count down the calendar to the arrival of Israel’s promised king. Centuries later, as the day nears, Myrad, a young magi acolyte, flees for his life when his adoptive father and others are put to death by a ruthless Parthian queen.

Having grabbed only a few possessions, Myrad escapes the city, and searching for a way to hide from the soldiers scouring the trade routes, he tries to join the caravan of the merchant Walagash. The merchant senses that Myrad is hiding secrets, but when the young man proves himself a valuable traveler, an epic journey filled with peril, close escapes, and dangerous battles begins.

With every day that passes, the calendar creeps closer to the coming Messiah. And over everything shines the dream of a star that Myrad can’t forget and the promise that the world will never be the same.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

The cover is cool, the synopsis is intriguing, and we were approaching the Christmas season, so I thought Why Not?

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Sadly, I found why not; it’s because Biblical fiction is a big hit or miss for me, and so, therefore, I shouldn’t have ventured into the land of a new Biblical fiction author while getting a book for review.

First off, let me clarify, it’s not as if there’s anything wrong with this book. It didn’t appear to disregard the truth of the Bible at all, nor was the plot silly. The details were well written, and it’s clear the author excels at his craft.

Just, this book wasn’t for me.

If I hadn’t gotten it for review, I wouldn’t have continued reading, simply because it’s not the style I like. It’s more about the adventure and less about the plot or character development. We follow the main character as he escapes danger and joins a trade caravan, then most of the book takes place traveling across the desert.

Plenty of action happens along the way – although not with an excessive amount of gory details, so that’s a plus. There were a few places where the characters were fleshed out, but by the end of the book, I still didn’t feel like I knew any of them very well – although I could tell you how to become an expert archer while riding a galloping horse.

There were a few slight things I had issues with, but mostly that’s because they took all the things I always imagined about the magi, and totally flipped them around and totally changed them. But, the keyword here is that they did that with the things I imagined, not the things that were clearly spelled out in the Bible, so that’s not actually a problem.

One thing that I didn’t like is mentioned down below but is a spoiler, so read at your own risk.

 

(SPOILER: The way the magi got the gifts they gave to Jesus was by stealing gold from the royal treasuries. Now nowhere are we told in the Bible that this didn’t happen, but it doesn’t seem likely to me, and seemed to make the gift less special.) 

 

 

CONCLUSION

This seems like it would be a great book for a teenage boy looking for an adventure story. Obviously, girls can read it too, but it seems like it’s aimed more at guys, especially since there are only three female characters in the whole story (I think), and one of them is a bloodthirsty queen. 

I don’t plan on reading more by this author, but I’m sure a lot of people would really enjoy his writing style.

RATING

I’m giving The End of the Magi 2 out of 5 stars, although Amazon and Goodreads I’ll be rating it 3 Stars, because there really isn’t anything wrong with it. I’m thankful to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy so I could review it for y’all.

‘Tis a New Chapter Indeed

I didn’t stay up until midnight last night. That was on purpose, and I had a delightful time greeting the New Year with the soft light of dawn.

Beginnings of months always make me happy – it’s like a fresh paragraph, just awaiting thoughts, experiences, and adventures to spill on to the page. A new year is even better. It’s a new chapter, fresh, clean, promising to be full of surprises. A new decade? Well, I’ve lived through so few of those that I don’t even know where to categorize them.

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If you’ve been around long you know I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. From what I’ve heard, those don’t seem to stick, and who wants to start out a new chapter with a failure? Instead, I write goals. And normally I’m pretty good at keeping my goals because I’m a very goal-oriented person.

Twenty-nineteen kinda laughed in my face and not only did I literally lose my goals (I’m still not sure how that happened since I had them multiple places), but my life went in a way different – and wildly more exciting – direction than what I’d imagined.

The last known list of goals I have from 2019 was when I reassessed my goals for the year – something I highly recommend since looking at twelve months is important, but kinda hard to predict.

Although I lost my Goal List, I did still have a mental inventory of some of the goals and plugged away at them during the last six months of the year. Since I’m used to recording goal wins and losses here in my little sphere of the internet, here’s what I have/can remember:

  • All writing goals – NO (When I move to Kentucky I decided I needed to put writing on hold until I settled in. Then after I’d finally settled into one job, I was promoted and had to learn a whole new set of responsibilities)
  •  Track all the money I spend for three months – YES (more like six)
  • Walk at least twenty miles a month – YES (December I walked 143 miles)
  • Read two nonfiction books a month – YES (I read forty-two nonfiction altogether)
  • Add all books to Goodreads – YES (I actually changed this do Instagram stories, but for the same reason I was going to do Goodreads)
  • Write monthly reviews – NO
  • Write monthly and weekly goals – NO (I stopped around October)
  • Journal once a week – YES
  • Four Instagram pictures a month – YES and NO (Did until I reassessed in May and decided to drop the goal)
  • Blog twice a week – NO
  • Drink Ionized water and share devotional thought every day – YES
  • Go paleo (in May changed to no sugar or gluten) for 100 days – YES

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Did I do well with my goals last year? Well, that’s subject to debate. Do I wish I’d done better? On some of them (like blogging) the answer is yes. On others (like writing) I knew I needed to set them aside and focus on other things, so I’m more than okay with DNFing those goals.

As a new chapter in life opens in front of me, I’m thankful for the ability to write goals, and the freedom to let go/change/reassess goals as life changes. Goals are tools, not chains, and I’m excited for the tools I have in my bag this year. 😉

Happy Twenty-twenty, folks!

Did you write goals in 2019? If so, how did you do with accomplishing them?

Seven Months

There’s this thing I do that sometimes still surprises me.

It’s an adventure. It’s fun. At times it’s overwhelming – a fair amount of work to be sure. Often days pass by without me thinking about it, but then something will happen and the craziness of it will all crash back down on me. I never expected to do this thing, and then it was only supposed to be temporary. Then when it wasn’t simply temporary, it was only gonna be for a few more months. And then it wasn’t, but the change was so gradual that at times I wonder if it will ever fully hit me, and at other times it feels like this has been my reality for ages upon ages.

See, I live on my own.

It was Christmas Day when I was starting my trek back to Kentucky from spending several days with my family in Ohio that the GPS on my phone first referred to where I now live as home. I didn’t program it to do that, and quite frankly it surprised me and I had to double-check to make sure it was taking me to the correct location. It was.

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Today marks the seventh month since I moved here. Seven months, Thirty-one weeks, Two-hundred-and-seventeen days. More than half a year, and a lot more than the three months we originally discussed.

My life has changed a lot in those months. Most of the changes have been good. A few of those changes (like a lack of blogging) I hope to rectify as the next seven months dance by. Some things in life are simply so different now that comparing them to my old life isn’t even feasible.

Today the reason it hit me again that I live on my own is that I want popcorn, but I forgot it while going grocery shopping yesterday. I come from a big family, and back where I lived in Ohio I had multiple married siblings who lived within ten minutes of my family’s home. That meant if I didn’t have something I wanted/needed, there was a fair possibility that with a few texts I could either be 1) Invited over for popcorn, 2) Given popcorn, 3) Have a family member stopping at the store and they’d pick up popcorn for me.

(Funny story, as I’m blogging I’m watching our family’s texting group light up with texts as one of the siblings invites everyone over for an impromptu movie/snack evening. This sort of thing is exceedingly normal in my family.)

And in reality, popcorn isn’t that big of a deal – I ate a salad instead (which is probably one of my finer moments but not necessarily as common as it should be). But, popcorn is simply a small example that makes me stop and consider what I’m really doing in life.

I’m the homebody of the family. A self-proclaimed sibling-follower. The one who enjoyed tagging along instead of having to forge her own trail. And yet here I am – living in a different state from my family. Going to church on my own. Thankfully, I do have my “second/adopted” family to work with, although with how their schedule is set up, they’re not here a lot of the time.

Sometimes I have to stop and wonder what I’m doing with my life. Why I left my family and moved to another state. Every time I do though, I’m hit with an overwhelming assurance that I’m doing the right thing. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. This is my life, and I’m so, so thankful for the chance to live it, and to live it well.