9 Quirky Things That Make Me Happy

The older I get, the more I realize that I get exceedingly happy at quirky little things.

  1. Running my fork along the insides of a baked potato – I always imagine the fork is a plow and I’m making furrows in a field. (Apparently this isn’t what everyone thinks?)
  2. When people use their car’s turning signal – it makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself. Just think about it, you’re communicating with complete strangers without using any sound or hand motions. It’s so cool. Kinda like being a spy. (Or at least that’s what I always imagine.)
  3. When people pay with $10 billsDo y’all know how uncommon $10 bills are? At least at our coffee shop, they’re a total rarity. And yes, I have cheered when people hand me one. And yes, I have gotten weird looks.

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4.    When I successfully crack an egg into a bowl one-handedly. I often crack eggs with just one hand, and sometimes the shells accompany the inside of the egg, and that’s a bummer. But when the egg drops and all the shells stay in my hand? #success

5.   Putting silverware away from the dishwasher. I always imagine that I’m putting money in a cash register. It just hit me recently that most people don’t visualize that?

6.   Sleeping under an open window and having snow hit my face. Seriously, I’m pretty sure this is the best way to sleep. Especially if the wind is blowing hard.

7.   Deleting things off my phone. Pictures, apps, contacts, notes… I like using my phone as a tool and for recreation purposes, but I only like having things on my phone that I’m using in that season of my life. Decluttering my phone is the best.

8.   Dandelions. Folks. They’re so resilient and beautiful and live nearly year-around.

9.  Acting like a vacuum sweeper is an elephant. Surely I’m not the only one who acts like a vacuum hose is an elephant’s trunk? Because if y’all don’t imagine that when you’re sweeping than you’re missing out on life.

10.  Having a word pop into your mind that you don’t really recall using before, but seem to know it will fit the sentence, looking it up and discovering that you were right. Yo, I’m not sure how this happens, but it does and it kinda amazes me.

Currently
Setting: Chapman’s Coffee House 
Listening to: College girl’s talking at the next table over because I forgot my earbuds
Random Fact: It was below zero today for the first time this year 
Question of the Day: What’s a quirky thing that makes you happy? 

Unimaginable

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FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 240
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: December 5, 2017
Title: Unimaginable: What Our World Would Be Like Without Christianity
Author: Jeremiah J. Johnston
Nonfiction

BACK COVER BLURB:

A Stirring Account of Christianity’s Power for Good

In a day when Christians are often attacked for their beliefs, professor and speaker Jeremiah Johnston offers an inspiring look at the positive influence of Christianity, both historically and today. In Unimaginable, you’ll discover the far-reaching ways that Christianity is good for the world–and has been since the first century AD–including:
· How the plights of women and children in society were forever changed by Jesus
· Why democracy and our education and legal systems owe much to Christianity
· How early believers demonstrated the inherent value of human life by caring for the sick, handicapped, and dying
· How Christians today are extending God’s kingdom through charities, social justice efforts, and other profound ways

Like It’s a Wonderful Life, the classic film that showed George Bailey how different Bedford Falls would be without his presence, Unimaginable guides readers through the halls of history to see how Jesus’ teachings dramatically changed the world and continue to be the most powerful force for good today. This provocative and enlightening book is sure to encourage believers and challenge doubters.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK:

The concept of the book really grasped my attention. Other than that, I don’t quite remember why I chose this book because I got it a while ago. I didn’t read it for about a year because I thought it was going to be really heavy and I wasn’t in the mood for that type of book. But then I read it and…

WHAT I THOUGHT OF THIS BOOK:

Folks! I could barely put this book down. It was so good and grabbed my interest from the first page. Most of the time I skim read books – at least to a point – but I had to read every word of this book to get the full story. I read it over the period of two and a half days and want to read more by the same author.

The book was divided into three parts, so I’ll give a brief overview of each of the parts:

The World Before Christianity
This is probably the segment that I found most interesting. It talked a lot about what the world looked like before Jesus’ time, and how we often see the world back then through the eyes of how our world is today. Mr. Johnston then spent several chapters breaking it down subject by subject and showing the worldview was quite different back then. I really like history, so this part of the book was right up my alley.

The World Without Christianity
This section discussed some of the big influencers of philosophical thoughts from the nineteenth century – men like Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. There were several other men named also, and we got a brief overview of each of their lives, as well as what they thought/taught and what impact their teachings then had on the world.

This part was also highly interesting to me and made me want to read more books like it. I had to keep my phone next to me so I could look up what was being said from time to time because there were a lot of concepts I wasn’t familiar with.

The main point of this segment was pointing out what happens when men try to take God out of the picture, and what a disaster that turns into. (Examples: WW2 and Communism.)

The World With Christianity
The last section opens with a bunch of stats and that was really intriguing to me. (In fact, I promptly found a few people who I could share some of them with because it’s so interesting.) Overall though, the last few chapters of the book found my attention lagging a bit. I’m not sure if it’s because it covered more information that I knew already, or if I was simply ready to move on, but it was the last few chapters that brought the book from a five star read to a four star read for me. I still learned a lot from the last segment though.

Conclusion:

There were several things I didn’t agree with, plus a few things that left me confused. For instance: Mr. Johnston clearly sees how Darwin’s teachings negatively affected the world, and yet Mr. Johnston seems to believe that evolution is true instead of a literal interpretation of Genesis.
At times there were also concluding statements that were made that sounded reasonable, but I’m not sure if they were entirely accurate.
One warning: This book does deal with some harsh realities of the world, as well as talking about some pretty bad beliefs some people hold, so I don’t recommend it to anyone under the age of 15.

RATING:

This book was just a millimeter away from five stars. So Good! And yet, in the end, I’m giving it four out of five stars. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for reviewing it on my blog and I’m so thankful for the opportunity!

Keep Calm and Read On (8 Benefits​ of Reading)

As it turns out, reading can boast a host of benefits. As it also turns out, I read a lot so I stand here before you today (actually, I’m sitting on the couch, but that’s beside the point), to share some of said benefits with you. 😉

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  1. Reading Makes You Smarter 
    Okay, so maybe it doesn’t literally raise your IQ (but then again, it might), but reading does add to your bank of information that you then have stored in your brain. That means that in the future you’ll be able to pull from that information (on purpose and also automatically), so therefore reading does help you have more knowledge.
  2. Reading Helps You Empathize with More People 
    There have been many times when I can relate to an emotion someone is experiencing, not from my own life, but because I’ve seen the same emotion through the eyes of a character. Add thousands of these experiences together and it can give a helpful framework for how someone may want to be treated.
  3. Reading Is A Great Escape 
    It’s not always a good idea to “escape” a problem, but sometimes stepping back and getting some relief in a stressful or trying situation can do a world of good. Grabbing a light-hearted contemporary generally does the trick for me.
  4. Reading Can Make You More Well-Rounded 
    It was an eye-opening day for me when a friend of mine mentioned how a book that took place in Egypt helped her to imagine the Bible times better. I hadn’t realized until then that not everyone had the backdrop to a thousand different time periods, cultures, and settings painted into their mind through the pages of books.
  5. Reading Expands Your Vocabulary
    It’s hard to describe something when you don’t have words with which to work. Reading helps more words enter your brain, and by either using the clues of context or by looking them up, you can add them to your repertoire of words to use in the future.
  6. Reading Is A Great Way To Learn New Skills 
    There are so many how-to books out there. It’s actually rather glorious what all we can learn from reading. And, in addition to all the books, there are millions of articles. Isn’t it crazy to think of the fact that we will never run out of things to read?
  7. Reading Opens Up A Whole World Of Friendships 
    I’m not talking about friendships with characters, although that’s pretty epic, too. I’m speaking more about when you get to talk about reading with other people – it can be instant connectivity.
  8. Reading Is A Delightful, Inexpensive Form of Entertainment  
    Sure, you can spend a lot of money on books, but there are also great alternatives – like the library and book sales. So go, have fun, and learn a lot!
What is one of your favorite benefits to reading?

P.S. Stay tuned for a list of bookish recommendations coming soon!

Tagged By Grace =)

Folks! In-between packing and working and sixty other things, I finally have a vlog ready! I’m planning on leaving for vacation in just over six hours, and life has been busy in the extreme. But! In the midst of it all, here’s the answers to the lovely questions Grace from Don’t You Know I’m Singing tagged me to answer.

Announcing: A Change in Blogging (plus a vlog)

A delightful and happy Friday morning to y’all!

Today, we’re going to be talking about some changes. I’m excited about them, but they will affect y’all a bit so I wanted to let you in on my thought process and explain it all to you. So let’s dive in.

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Back in March when I was celebrating my sixth year blogging anniversary I thought a lot about how and why and all the behind the scenes of blogging. And I realized that somehow I’d become a blogger who writes instead of a writer who blogs. Meaning so much of my time that was set aside for writerly activities was taken up with blogging. Plus, I was constantly behind in answering comments. And, visiting other bloggers? Well, that had come to a nearly complete standstill.

After thinking and praying about it for a while I came up with a solution but then decided to do the A to Z Challenge, which meant I couldn’t really change things up until May. Seeing how far I got behind with the Challenge in April only reinforced in my mind how I needed to implement my change.

See, I’m going to only blog three days a week.

It feels really weird to say that after five years of blogging five days a week very consistently. Yet, I know it will be good for a number of reasons. Take yesterday for instance: I was supposed to get to work (which is 45 minutes away) at 8:30. I generally spend my mornings rushing around and trying to blog before hurrying out the door and then literally running from the car to get into work on time. Yesterday? I sauntered into work seven minutes early and completely amazed at how unrushed the morning had felt.

So, obviously, the added time in my schedule will be a plus. I plan on still using that time for writing-related activities – actual writing, connecting with other bloggers (oh, happy day!), maybe keeping up with other social media platforms better, etc….

I’ve also noticed that a lot of y’all don’t read my blog every day anyway, but when you come you catch up on various posts at once. And I agree, reading someone’s blog five days a week would be a little bit of overkill. I’ve just really enjoyed blogging five days a week before now. But now? Now y’all won’t have as much content to catch up on.

Also, if I’m only posting three days a week I can take more time to come up with quality content. I’ve been enjoying posting graphics to go along with my posts, but yo, folks. It takes time to create those. So, less posting means I can spend more time making my blog be the best it can be.

My plan currently (which I’ve actually been following this month already) is to blog Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I might not always follow that and I won’t freak out if I don’t, but at least now y’all know what you can expect from me.

Lord willing I’ll also be posting my vlog on my Friday post, and I’m trying to choose a day to post on Instagram once a week. (I’m excited about that, folks, and can’t wait to share more with you.)

I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts about the changes, as well as hear about anything you’d like to see more or less of on Noveltea. Thanks, friends, for sticking around and being a part of my life!

And now for my bookish vlog which is completely unrelated to this post and also features my sister’s puppy. 😉

When Your Desk Doesn’t Tell The True Story

If you were to look at my desk, you’d probably be able to tell I’m a writer. All the signs are there (not literally, folks). I have a corkboard, white board, sticky-notes, tacks, paperclips, papers pens, markers, planning notebooks, and lined three-by-five cards all within easy reach.

I know what it takes to be a writer, and I like to be prepared. My writing life is organized, beautiful, and ready for action. Whenever a thought strikes me I have easy access to getting it recorded and in the proper file. (Did I mention I also have a huge file folder right under my desk? Oh, and two file cabinets a skip, hop, and jump away.)

My ergonomics keyboard and computer stand make writing easy on the wrists and perfect for long, intense writing sessions. I have a window to gaze out of if I need inspiration and a comfy chair with a sheepskin on the back. (Because apparently, that’s good for your health or some such thing?) The salt lamp to my right sheds just enough light to give a warm glow, and the defuser to the left takes its job seriously as it pumps out essential-oil infused mist that not only helps my hands stay moist, but helps me stay healthy.

On paper (or Instagram) my writing life can look pretty perfect. The set up is optimal and life is grand.

 

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How my desk looked this morning with no staging, straightening, or editing

 

But, sometimes a picture doesn’t tell the whole story. The whole story which includes things like the fact that I’ve yet to ever put a single paper in the file under my desk. Or that my pens get chewed on more than written with. Or that my file cabinets have mayhem going on inside of them, and with a huge variety of things other than paper.

Sometimes my writing gets left behind in a flood of non-writing work. Or I get sick and my brain can barely figure out how to string words together, much less spell with any reasonable accuracy. Or I lose momentum and forget how important writing really is.

See, just because I have the perfect writing set up, or project the best writing aura online, or even trick myself into thinking I’m being productive… Well, that doesn’t always make it true. There’s a difference between truly writing, and well… Ya know, just walking the walk, and talking the talk kind of thing?

That’s the way it is with the rest of life, too. Just because you claim you do something or are something doesn’t make it true. Just because you can make your life appear to be one way on social media or to your parents or around your friends…. Well, that doesn’t make it true, either. Life isn’t what we portray it to be. It’s deeper than that, it’s who we really are. A conglomeration of the thoughts we think, the actions we take even when others aren’t around, where we spend our time and money, and what we really are on the inside.

What I Listened To While Blogging:
Story of My Life by the Piano Guys
Where I Blogged:
At my desk
Fun Fact:
I’m going to PA this weekend! 
Question Of The Day: 
What was the best part of your Sunday? 

P.S. Yes, I really am a writer. A woefully behind-in-goals and haven’t-written-much-in-ages and straighten-and-stage-her-desk-before-photos type of writer, but at the end of the day, I’m still a writer. And for that, I’m thankful.

25 Random Facts About Me {An Introduction}

Hey Everyone! Since the giveaway last week brought a lot of new followers I thought it would be fun to write a jolly, random post with little tidbits about my life that will help you feel more at home here. Kinda like an introduction, you know?

For those of you who have been reading Noveltea for a while, I’m trying to mix things up and tell previously undisclosed facts. Which, believe me, is harder than it sounds. 😉

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  • I dance in the car while driving (very safely, of course)
  • I have the shortest full name in my family (it’s only twelve letters long), and I’m also the shortest of the siblings
  • For the last several years I traveled between three and a half and four and a half months a year because I could work from anywhere
  • One of my first pets was a kitten named Bright-Eyes
  • Instead of a bedroom, I have an office and just sleep on the floor
  • Once, several years ago, I ate part of a T-rex tooth. (A minuscule piece fell off the tooth while it was being glued together, and it was too fragile to put back on, so I ate it. Because, who doesn’t want to eat dinosaur?)
  • Piano music is pretty much the most inspiring thing to me ever, although I don’t play – only listen and watch. (I did take piano lessons for about a year in my early teens)
  • I made a pie for the first time when I was ten – I got up early in the morning when everyone else was asleep to see if I could make one successfully, and I could
  • My favorite verse is Ephesians 3:20 (because I have a great imagination)
  • I’m training to run a half marathon along with several of my co-workers/friends. I ran one in 2016 and it was glorious
  • At church, I always sit in the front row on the far left side, because it helps me not be distracted by watching everyone. I generally take my shoes off and sit cross-legged on my chair
  • Several months ago I began teaching Children’s Church every Sunday (instead of just being on rotation) which was a dream come true for me. (We have two services, so I go to the early service and teach the second one)
  • I work at a coffee shop but mostly make food and take orders. I’ve only just started making coffees because my boss is great and let me learn at my own pace
  • Autumn is my favorite season, followed by winter, and then spring and summer
  • I ribbit regularly (and caw, and occasionally bark). It’s amazing how well my family understands me without words
  • I’m the seventh out of ten children and have nine nieces and five nephews
  • For a couple of years, my blog didn’t have a title – just my name – until my cousin told me I should remedy that. Noveltea came during a time in my life when I couldn’t drink caffeine so tea became a staple. (Besides, Novelcoffee just doesn’t have the same ring to it)
  • My favorite part of summer is cutting grass and going barefoot
  • My lawnmower’s name is Chadwin and he and I are great friends
  • I dream of one day having a cooking blog/Youtube channel
  • One of my most favorite people in the whole world just moved in with us, so yay
  • I speak in hashtags on a regular basis #saywhat
  • Curries are some of my favorite food
  • I’m new to Instagram, but it’s fast become one of my favorite aspects of connecting with other bloggers (you can follow me at lydia_reads)
  • I’m a huge introvert but I’m also really outgoing, so I generally walk around telling people strange, random facts

That’s it for today, folks!

What I Listened To While Blogging:
The Piano Guys and Hosanna talking 😉
Where I Blogged:
In the kitchen, while cooking lunch with Hosanna – so yes, very sporadic 

Fun Fact:
Our church is having a work week, so I’m about to head over there with food for everyone who’s helping out 
Question Of The Day: 
What are two random facts about you? I’d be delighted to get to know you better!
And, if you’ve been following Noveltea for a while, was I able to come up with any random facts about me that you didn’t know?