Recognizing Him

Reflection on Today’s Gospel: Matthew 17:9A, 10-13

As I’m sure you know, Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas started the weekend before Halloween with a different Christmas movie every day. I believe it’s 37 new ones this year to be precise. If you’ve seen one Hallmark Christmas movie, you’ve seen them all. Girl meets boy, girl doesn’t like boy because she’s dating someone else/sworn off dating entirely/has a feud with boy or his family/doesn’t live in the same state/is disappointed in men, either girl or boy aren’t really *into* Christmas, boy falls in love with girl by accident, boy helps girl decorate Christmas tree/make Christmas cookies/throw Christmas gala – in general save Christmas, boy and girl kiss and live happily ever after.

I mean, they’re all the same. So what’s the point of this?

I’m not someone who watches all of the Hallmark movies, I don’t even have a TV or cable to be able to sit down every night with a cup of hot chocolate and be transported to a land (usually Canada, that’s where they are all filmed) where Christmas is in danger and then saved in less than 2 hours. But I do hold out for a few of them each year because I like some of the actors and let’s face it, they’re cute and sweet. No one gets to a battle, has their gut punctured with a sword, and you see their insides come out (actual movie I watched at a friend’s house a few weeks ago … not my style at all). 

So, again, back to the point. Advent, Christmas, Hallmark, and Jesus! Candace Cameron Bure starred this year in a Shoe Addict’s Christmas which had a sweet story buried in the end about sleighs and how the Lord is there but He disguises Himself. It’s a reinterpretation of the man who dies in a rainstorm. The snow starts coming down and piling up. A man starts praying to the Lord to save Him. A sleigh comes by as the snow is about 2 feet and asks if he needs help. He says, “No, the Lord will save me.” Then the snow rises and a bigger sleigh comes by asking if He needs help. He says, “No, the Lord will save me.” Then he’s on the roof, the snow’s super high, and a giant sleigh comes by and asks if He needs help. He says, “No the Lord will save me.” Then the man drowns, and he meets the Lord face-to-face and says, “Why didn’t you save me?” The Lord replies, “I sent you a three different sleighs – what were you waiting for?” 

How many times does the Lord come to us and we don’t recognize Him? How many prophets have come throughout the Old Testament and the people of God continued to say, “When will you save us from this oppression/famine/heartache?” How many times do we dismiss the Lord when He doesn’t come how we’ve decided He should? 

Recognize Him today. He’s coming to be with you today! It might not be in the exact way you thought it would be. It might be a Hallmark movie telling you to “Wake Up, it’s time to save Christmas!” (Okay, probably not – but maybe!) He’s revealing Himself to you every day in the sunrise, via your family and friends, in the good works of other people, in the way the clouds are different every day, in the sunset, in your prayer, in the Mass! He’s here, are your eyes open?

This reflection originally appears on Carpe Verbum today.

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Reading Tools

Beth, Anne, & Me on her I’d Rather Be Reading Book Tour at Mainstreet Books in Davidson!
(also I was SUPER sun-burnt this day, apparently)

I was sitting with some acquaintances the other night when my reading life came up. I told them I met my reading goal for the year of 175 books, now I’m at 188. Unless something weird happens in December, I’ll hit 200 books this year. I can’t even believe it. But as I was talking about some of the things I do to help me track my reading, they said “you should write about these tools so we can take advantage of them.” Well, ladies this is for you!

Here are the tools that help me track my reading progress, find books to read, and use my library better.

  1. The Library Extension: This is the best way to add books to my hold list at the library. You just install it on Chrome and it shows up on Amazon and Goodreads. It tells you if the book is in the library catalog, how many copies exist, and if any are available. So when I see a book from a friend on Goodreads or click over to Amazon, I can see if it’s available at the library, simply click ‘place hold,’ and then go over to the library website and add it to my list. It’s a lot easier than looking up the book, finding the right edition, and placing the hold.
  2. Goodreads: Keeping track of the books I want to read was the biggest need I had. Will my TBR list of 700 ever be empty? Probably not, since I’m always adding to it. I have a lot of different shelves for who recommended it, a list of 2018 books, books from Anne (see below), books I own, what I’ve recommended, book club reads, etc. Goodreads is also the best way to track where you are on your reading goal. It’ll tell you if you’re ahead or behind and also will keep track of what you’ve read. You can either manually add it to the reading challenge list or mark it as ‘currently reading’ and then ‘finished’ in the app or online. In the app you can also scan a book to add it to your TBR or Currently Reading list.
  3. The Library Holds List: The greatest love affair of my life is with my library. I’m there at least once a week, sometimes more. I keep my hold list at the max most of the time for new releases, recommendations, audio books (which I put on USB to listen to in the car), and more. You can pause, suspend, and even save for later within their online account. I do a lot of strategic things with my list by keeping a few spots available for ‘it’ll be a year before this book is available’ books, and a bunch where I’m #1 on the list and I just don’t want to walk to the shelf to get the book when I arrive at the library (kidding, sometimes it’s on shelves but not at my library). Jon Acuff always says that he loves the library because it “makes him feel like a boss” since he can take home 5 or 10 books at a time. You can’t do that at the store, that’s an expensive habit!
  4. IRL Friends: Beth, Mary Grace, Elisabeth, Lisa, and Sarah are my best in real life book friends who share amazing recommendations. I keep track of their recommendations on Goodreads (and also follow them there), and I trust their recommendations because I know them and their reading style. Does every book they read make sense for me? Of course not – but I also like being able to read the same books as my friends so we can talk about it.
  5. Book Podcasts: I listen to two book podcasts regularly. Anne Bogel’s What Should I Read Next is my favorite. I love Anne’s recommendations and can judge by her plot summaries if I’ll like a book. The shownotes pages are also amazing since they list out every book that was mentioned in the podcast. I’m always adding to my TBR list (and she has a special shelf in Goodreads). I also like Annie Jones on From the Front Porch. She’s the owner of the Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA. I also like her reading style and typically love books that she’s loved. Their shownotes aren’t as extensive, but a great resource!
  6. Bookstagram: I follow a few great people on Instagram that not only promote books that publishers send them for free, but they read a lot of books and have similar reading styles as me. Here are a few of my favorites: What Should I Read Next, Anne Bogel, Annie Jones, Katelyn, and Kate Olson. Also I’m just now realizing that my best bookstagram friends are all named Anne or Katie (in some form).
  7. Modern Mrs. Darcy blog: This is Anne Bogel’s blog. As I’ve said before with her podcast and Instagram, I appreciate her recommendations. She has a great way of cataloging reads by topic, season, monthly updates, etc. 

For me, reading has become my lifestyle. I always have a book in my purse, on my nightstand, in the kitchen, around the living room. I do monthly ‘buddy reads’ with two different friends (we meet monthly to video chat), have a book friends group with people at work, and an IRL book club.

This year I have been writing about my reads every month, not sure I’m going to do that in 2019 because it takes a while and I’m not sure it’s helpful. We shall see – but I find that writing about what I read is really helpful. Also I don’t think a long post about each book would be useful – but maybe a one minute review like my friend David over at Restless Pilgrim does would work. 

What I Read … November 2018 Edition

November was such a warm and cozy month that I couldn’t help but read. It also helped to have an entire Thanksgiving weekend without obligations where I could just read and sit and read and sleep and read. I also hit my reading goal for the year, which was a nice surprise! I’m going for 200 for the year and think I can do it … I only need 17 books in December and lots of cozy reading time over Christmas break will help!!

The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #11) by Louise Penny: I’m almost the entire way through the Inspector Gamache series and I love every new book more than the previous. I’ve heard Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy describe Louise Penny’s books as “a story about humanity and psychology wrapped around a murder mystery.” It’s so true. I’m in love with these characters and am excited to keep moving through the series. I read two this month (see below) and have another on the counter in the TBR pile from the library. I found it right on the shelf waiting for me!

The Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller: This was a sweet read I did as a buddy read with my friend Lisa. It was about a woman who had been running her father’s diner since her mother’s passing. Her dad passed a few years ago and her sister took off with her share of the house leaving Nora to run the diner. Someone passes, leaves the sisters a lot of land and a bunch of debt, and then a cute rep from a big box store comes to town offering to solve all of their problems. There’s a bit of love, a lot of fire, some great art, and a sweet story about family and love working itself out later in life. 

It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single by Sara Eckel: I saw this book in this Verily article a few weeks ago and thought “why not, what have I got to lose?” The library had it on Hoopla so I downloaded it and started listening and I couldn’t stop. This is one of the best books I’ve read on the single life, ever. The author is married when she writes the book, but she isn’t writing her advice to long-time single girls as someone who married at 27 and just ‘waited forever.’ I roll my eyes deeply to the back of my head when I read those books. I’ll spoil the end for you though – the actual reason why you’re single (and I’m single) is that we haven’t met the right person at the right time. That’s all. It’s as simple and as frustrating as that. Also I loved this book so much I immediately purchased my very own copy!

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: We read this for book club this month. I’d seen the movie years ago, but really liked the book. The time table could be hard to follow at times, but it was good to have everything written out and the headings helped. Someone else listened to it and said there are two narrators, one for Henry and one for Clare. 

The Power by Naomi Alderman: I borrowed this book from my future sister-in-law who read it for her book club. I have been really into dystopian fiction this year (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Giver Series, & Vox) and wanted to dive into a book where women were given power over men rather than deeper into a world where men take advantage of their power over men. I also appreciated that From the Front Porch had a Love It or Loathe It back episode about it. I have so many conflicting thoughts on this book, but at its heart I think it’s a story about the ways that women do to men what men have done to women for millennia. One of the things someone on that episode says is that it was really hard to read about women raping men in the book – but that they don’t find stories about men raping women to be as disturbing. I think that’s the issue. Naomi exaggerated so many things in the book to show how ridiculous they actually are. For instance, it’s a book within a book – and she writes to the man who wrote it that he might find it easier to publish the book under a women’s name. It seemed silly – but then think about J.K. Rowling

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg: I started this book when it came through my hold list earlier this summer and loved the first chapter so much I knew I needed to have my own copy. So I purchased one and opened a different book, and then I finally got back around to it this month. It was so good and the very last recipe has become my new favorite dessert to make: The Wining Hearts & Minds Chocolate Cake. I just purchased the ingredients to make 3 cakes for the 3 teams at our home office who help me most throughout the year. Shhh, they don’t know cake is about to be in the mail!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler: I listened to this on audio, and if you haven’t listened to it, you’re missing out. Amy is so funny and she has a full cast! It was a delight to listen to and I enjoyed it immensely. 

Messy & Foolish: How to Make a Mess, Be a Fool, And Evangelize the World by Matthew Warner: Borrowed this from someone at work and read it in less than an hour. I couldn’t help but share aspects on my stories on Instagram. I even made a highlights real if you want a quick summary. It was inspiring. I feel more ready to go out into the world and share my faith!

A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #12) by Louise Penny: Back out of retirement, Armand dives into a new area of the police force – the academy. Just a delightful look into the human mind. Can’t wait for #13 … three books in line ahead of it!

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt: I have read a lot about WW2 historical fiction and some WW1, but nothing about Vietnam. This was smart and funny and sweet. It was in a list from Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy a while ago and I liked it. A sweet middle grade fiction read.

This Is What Happy Looks Like (This Is What Happy Looks Like #1) by Jennifer E. Smith: I don’t remember why I picked this one up, but it was fine. Nothing special – more like an adult chick-lit book but with teens and without any graphic sex scenes. In that way it’s super sweet – but I I’m seeing it’s part of a series, that I won’t continue to read.

Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House by Omarosa Manigault Newman: I’ve been a political memoir junky this year too with lots about the Obama White House. This was my first Trump White House book, other than Fear which I’m half-way through. I learned a bit about the Trump Administration, but mostly I just learned about Omarosa. I admire her for her accomplishments in that she wanted something and she went after it and got it. I think she was let-go unfairly – but I don’t think she’s an amazing role model. One thing that was super interesting was reading about how someone can put aside all of the red flags because they were fully entranced in the message. Looking back she says these were red flags, but in the moment they were just stepping stones to help her get what she wanted. At least she was honest about that.

Christmas on the Island (Summer Seaside Kitchen #3) by Jenny Colgan: I read the first two books in this series earlier this year and loved them, so I was so excited to see that a Christmas one was released. A super sweet love story, which you know I love. You definitely need to read the first two to appreciate this one, so don’t go skipping ahead.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan: This year I’ve begun a deeper dive into C.S. Lewis and was excited to see this book about Joy Davidman, his wife. It was sweetly written, super interesting, and an inspiring story about love. The author did a lot of research and appeared to capture what it was really like for them. Although I don’t know much of the biographical information so I can’t compare it to that.

Can We Be Friends? by Rebecca Frech: I liked much of this book and disliked other parts of it. Some was inspiring about friends, but other parts were “doesn’t everyone know this to be true?” I have lots of great friends, but none of them are calling me while peeing on the stick to see if they are pregnant or not … and I think that’s a good boundary to have. Rebecca mentions this a lot, and I’m not sure what that’s about. Maybe I just don’t know because I’ve never taken a pregnancy test?

Well, that’s 15 books this month and brings my 2018 total to 183. I’m 105% of my goal of 175 books. I think I’ll make it to 200 books this year, only time will tell. One more work trip (lots of flying) and a trip home (22+ hours in the car so I’ve got at least 3 audio books lined up)! Catch up on previous editions of “what I read”: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October

Self-Care & FOMO

Everyone’s always talking about the benefits of self-care, and to learn more a friend and I are reading the book It’s Okay to Start with You together as our buddy-read this fall to dive a little deeper. So what is it? Well, it’s not “treat yo’self” all the time. Self-Care isn’t pedicures and spa days and shopping every weekend. It is making sure you take care of you so you can take care of other people.

Self-Care is about fitness, nutrition, leisure, prayer, mental health, emotional health, sleep, relationships, and boundaries. Many of the things people talk about with their therapist or counselor. 

Last year when I started seeing a counselor she would ask me about self-care, and I had a hard time articulating what I would do that week for self-care. I felt like I should always be busy, active, doing things, going places, etc. Since I’m single and wanting to meet someone, this is how I would do that. How could I be both wanting to get married and planning to sit at home all weekend reading a book? 

I learned that it’s okay to do that. It’s okay to start with me. My travel schedule this year has been pretty crazy and November was a lot crazy. I only had one trip but it was 10 days long, involved 5 cities and 7 different beds. It also included a lot of driving. I was beat afterward so I decided to throw a party at my house with almost 20 people (which is a lot of people for my small townhouse).

The only way I made it through was knowing that my Thanksgiving weekend involved Thanksgiving at a friends and then reading and movie watching the other three days. That’s what I’ve done the last three days. I read 4 books, watched some Christmas movies, drank some wine, talked to a few friends, and slept in. I also started a new fitness program which kicked my butt all week. I could hardly walk for two days after doing a fair amount of squats. 

This weekend I took care of me. From now until the end of the year I have just one week I’m not traveling, and something to do every weekend. I’m happy for all of those things, but I needed to take a break this weekend and take care of me. 

And that’s okay. We don’t have to be busy all of the time. We don’t have to have things going on all of the time. Last week I wrote a ‘dear friend‘ letter and a friend at work told me how lovely it was, but also how hard it was for her to read. She said the nearest single friend she has who could be there for her in this way lives over an hour away, and also that she doesn’t know anyone who isn’t crazy busy

I think we are all too crazy busy way too much. We value busyness like it’s a virtue, like if we aren’t going all of the places all of the time we will miss something important. As a society I think we have some serious FOMO (that’s Fear of Missing Out).

For a long time I did. But it was more like FOMH: Fear of Missing Him. Like if I didn’t do all of the things all of the time (YA ministries, Meet Ups, friend parties, events) I’d still be single and it’d be my own fault. I think parents have a Fear of Missing Out that they project onto their children. Fear of Missing Opportunities, Tree Lightings, Santa’s Laps, Disney Adventures, Summer Memories, Education, College, Extracurriculars, etc.

It’s all a little too much. We need a little more family game night, movie nights together, dinner at the table, laughing over a funny story, visiting with grandparents, adopting aunts and uncles, and family. It’s hard to pull out of what the culture says we need to be, to do, to have, to desire, to like, to want, to etc. We should be trying to say no because we have a Fear of Being Too Busy. Instead we appear to have a Fear of Not Being Busy Enough. 

So brew a cup of tea, find a book, choose a board game, cook a simple supper and enjoy self-care or family-care over busyness and the hustle and bustle of life. I’m making it one of my 2019 resolutions, and I’m starting now!

Dear Friend

Dear Friend,

I know that life is busy, things get hectic, and we can’t accomplish all of the things we want to. I know that I don’t know what it’s like to have a baby, two toddlers, three with another on the way, or six of all ages running around the house. The thing I do have, as a single woman who loves kids, is time.

I know I’m out of town a lot, but when I’m home, I desire nothing more than to hang out with my friends and catch up. I know we can’t always go out for a glass of wine or a pedicure or see a movie. I know you’ve got a lot going on at home with all of those little ones. I know that sometimes you’re just so tired you can hardly stand up straight – and you’ve still got three baths to give, five stories to read, and kids to put to bed who want nothing to do with sleeping. 

Although all of that is true, I still want to be your friend. Even more, I want to help you. I wish you’d be willing to ask for help, and then actually receive it.

The worst lie being told about motherhood in our society today is that you have to do it all. You have to be the perfect mom who has a great job, whose kids are involved in everything under the sun, who is always dressed well with perfectly dressed kids, who feeds their kids only veggies and homemade nutritious food. Not only that you’re supposed to be the perfect wife too.

Let’s all call BS on that now. None of us is perfect.

I’ll say it again, as a recovering perfectionist, None of Us is PERFECT. Truthfully we aren’t supposed to be and we can’t be. It’s just the truth.

So why are we trying to convince the world otherwise?

We all need help sometimes. Some of us more than others depending on the season of life we are in. Please don’t be afraid to show me your mess. I’ve been sharing mine with you for years. I’ve been crying on your shoulder as another birthday goes by without a man by my side in marriage. I’ve been expressing my self-doubt about whether I’m good enough at work to take on a new project. I’ve been showing you the messiness of my home by having your over when an afternoon of cleaning would have been a better use of my time. I’m not afraid of showing you my mess, and I wish you weren’t so scared of showing me yours.

Why?

Because I want to help. When your husband has to go out of town and the thought of being alone with the kids for the weekend amidst all of the other things on your plate overwhelms you, I want to take up residence in your guest room and cook you breakfast, play with your kids, give them a bath, and read story after story before bed. When you just can’t think about getting up off the couch because your morning sickness is more than you can handle, I want to come grab your kiddos and take them out for the afternoon so you can have a moment to be nauseous all alone.

I’m great at telling stories. I give great baths. I’m pretty fun with pretend games. I can climb up and down the slide over and over again with no problem. I make a mean mac and cheese and my PB&J is the stuff of legends. I can cut apples like nobody’s business, and my cleaning skills are on point. Rocking babies to sleep is my superpower, and I want nothing more than to be your friend when you need one the most.

I know that you’re ‘supposed to be able to do it all, all by yourself.’ But I’m calling BS. You can’t. I can’t. But We can, together. Why do you think that women put with up with polygamy for centuries? It wasn’t because “their husband earned the affection of all those great women.” PLEASE! It was because they lived a sisterhood and helped one another out. They needed each other, they used one another to help raise their children. They divided the housework amongst themselves. They took care of each other when they were sick or pregnant or recovering from childbirth or nursing all the time.

Now, I’m not suggesting that I want to marry your husband – although he may have been the last good one out there. I’m suggesting that it’s okay that we can’t do it all alone because we don’t have to.

One of the benefits of having a single friend who likes kids and isn’t afraid of messes is that she’s willing to walk into yours. I’m willing to change diapers, clean bathrooms, fold laundry, take kids on an adventure to McDonald’s or the Aquarium (why doesn’t anyone want to go to the aquarium with me?), brew a cup of tea, bake cookies, bring dinner or lunch, do the dishes, vacuum the floor, or whatever you need.

Because that’s what friends do. We’re there for one another through it all. Please let me help you, let me love you in this way. Not because I know you’ll do the same for me (although I sure hope you have the chance to), but because it’s how we can lean upon one another.

You might not be able to even think of taking your kids to the library all by yourself because it’s just ‘been.a.day.‘ But I’m well rested, showered, and had a good breakfast – and I can do anything for 3 hours. 

So friend, don’t be afraid to ask. I won’t think any less of you – honestly, I’ll think more of you because you recognize it takes a village. We all need each other … I can’t help if you don’t ask, I won’t impose myself on your life, your family, your home. If invited, I will come in and help. I want to. Please let me.

Your friend.

Fulfilling Obligations

Reading: Gospel Luke 17:7-10

estee-janssens-396887-unsplash

We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.

“Congratulations, you’ve done the bare minimum and now you want a gold sticker.” That’s a little what it feels like the Gospel is saying today.

At the end of my life I want to go to Heaven. Why? Well, the other option seems not so great, extraordinarily hot, and lonely since God’s love is never there. So I continue to ask myself “what do I need to do to get to Heaven?”

There are the basics: Mass on Sundays & Holy Days of Obligation, Fast 2 days of the year (Ash Wednesday & Good Friday), and Go to Confession once a year. This list is from the precepts of the Church.

There are also the ten commandments: no swearing, no killing, no cheating, no lying, no coveting.

But have I just ‘met my obligation’ if I interpret them so simply? Am I approaching the Lord and say “what’s the least I can do to be saved?” or “what’s the least I can do and it still counts as loving you?”

I think this attitude will probably be what keeps me from Heaven. Love doesn’t ask “what’s the least I could do.” Jesus doesn’t say “what’s the least I could do to show Katie that I love her today? Let’s see, she’s awake and breathing, that’s about enough.” He doesn’t say that because He Is Love and Love gives everything.

He GAVE and continues to GIVE everything to us because He LOVES us.

Am I giving everything out of love for Him? Am I asking “how can I serve you today with my whole heart?” Am I seeking to know, love, and serve Him with my whole being to give glory to Him? Or am I just doing what I’m obliged to do? Are you?

This reflection appeared on CarpeVerbum.org today.

What I Read … October 2018 Edition

What i read October.png

October started out so slow for me. I had a few trips, started a few sslllooowww books, and when the 12th rolled around I had only finished 3 books. I found a couple that helped me speed it up and then proceeded to finish 5 books in 5 days. Then I started a good, but slow read. October was rough for reading, but I’m still on track with my goal and reading is still my favorite pastime!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: This was our bookclub book for October and it was lovely. I also watched the movie on Amazon Prime with a friend which was also excellent. Although it’s in Swedish and has subtitled, by the way. Someone described it as the Me Before You with an Old Man instead of a young man. I think that’s a pretty accurate description. Ove has lost his purpose in life and therefore wants to end his life. Throughout the story he begins to find his purpose again. I also think it’s a good reminder of how we affect each other’s lives and what we can do to help one another. Without his neighbor, things would have been a lot different; both the annoying things and the good things!

The Long Way Home (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #10) by Louise Penny: I’m slowly working my way through this series and love them all. Anne from Modern Mrs Darcy shares a description of these books that the purpose of the murder in these books is just to talk about human behavior. I think it’s an accurate description. They are beautiful, usually a slower read for me, and filled with all kinds of things that make me think about people. Also, I want to move to a small town and live right on the square.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: This was recommendation from a book friend at work. She said she loves everything by her so I gave it a try. I went into it thinking it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I spent the whole book trying to figure out how. It is a retelling, but not of Beauty and the Beast – instead of Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. Knowing that makes all the difference! I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t enraptured by it either … I might not be smart enough for her.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer: I think this was recommended by Anne as well and although I think reading it gave me good perspective, I slogged through it. It’s the book that put me in a reading slump. I didn’t want to read it so I just re-watched episodes of The Good Place in the airport instead of reading.

Embracing Edith Stein: Wisdom for Women from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross by Anne Costa: I read this book with a friend for our new video book club, and I hated the first half and only slightly disliked the second half. It just wasn’t for me. I can see how it would be helpful for some people, but telling me that being feminine is to be meek and quiet is not something I’m interested in. I don’t even think Edith Stein was like that … so there’s that.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: I finally understand the underlying the Black Lives Matter movement. I should have known before this, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t get it. I get that my privilege means I don’t ever have to think about race, and that’s true. I never think about it so I’m trying to think about it more. And then do something about that, help provoke discussion, help make cultural changes.

 Tell Me More: Stories about the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan: I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to join the Modern Mrs Darcy Online Book Club and this was the month. I loved Kelly’s other book The Middle Place earlier this year so I signed up when I saw this was going to be the October title. It made me laugh, cry, change my life, and share with others. The most important phrases for me were No, Tell Me More, I Was Wrong, and I Don’t Know. The discussion we’ve been able to have online has also been great for digesting the book’s content. I wish I could just download all of her lessons, start using them everyday, and all of a sudden be an amazing person.

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber: My book-work friends and I decided to read a book together and this was that book. I really loved it. I read a lot of mysteries and this one was unique. The center of it is a family whose father was murdered about 10 years ago. A recent podcast is taking a closer look at the case (if this reminded you of Serial then you are on the right track) and dregs up everything from the past for the family to relive again. The main character had changed her name, tried to forget her family, and moved on during the past decade, but now, she’s being forced to live through it all again. And for good reasons … it’s a page turner, it’s delightful, and it made me rethink the internet and podcasts like Serial (although I’m still listening … just rethinking).

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis: I both liked and disliked this book. I wrote a lot about it earlier in October. I started following her and Dave (the husband) on Instagram and even watch their livestreams some days (they do one every morning). I really like him, her – I can take it or leave it. I do think that women have it harder when making a name for themselves than men do – that’s kind of an issue in our culture about self-promotion. Somethings in the book I was nodding my head and saying “YES!” to and others I was like, “whatever, you don’t really know what you’re talking about in this area.”

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson: I read this post a while ago when I was looking for another audio book to put on a USB drive in my car. It’s read by the author (which is rare for a work of fiction), and she is excellent! The book was delightful, and I took the long way almost everywhere to get in a few extra minutes wherever I could. Afterward I watched the author interview that Anne did for the book club (they read this months ago) and learned even more! Rachel and Leah are based on Rachel and Leah from the Bible. Even Jacob is represented. It’s delightful. It involves Batman’s baby! It was so good to listen to, maybe even better than reading, but of course, I’ll never know.

Us Against You (Beartown, #2) by Fredrik Backman: This is how I described it earlier to my book-work friends: “It’s the sequel to Beartown and I highly recommend both!! They are slow and steady reads – but packed with so much bunch about the world, politics (but not a side or position, more of a background about how pieces move around), love, family, pack mentality, OH it was SO good … literally cried through the last 20 pages!!!” I loved it, read it, but read Beartown first.

Make My Life Simple: Bringing Peace to Heart and Home by Rachel Balducci: I read this a chapter at a time before Mass over the last few weeks. I appreciated this as daily spiritual reading. There were some things that didn’t apply since I’m not a mom or a wife, but I’ve found the small household tips useful in keeping me organized and more at peace at home. Overall, good. And I’ve started following Rachel on Instagram and love her over there!

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler: I saw this on a Reader’s Digest list a few weeks ago that I cannot remember where I found. It was super sweet, a quick read, and a delight.

Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly: Anne over at Modern Mrs Darcy recommends this a lot. I saw it at a bookstore in Asheville. While my friend took a nap, I read it … about an hour. Some super funny moments, some sad moments, and some “what are you talking about” moments.

Heartburn by Nora Ephron: This was another one on the list from Anne about great audiobooks. It’s read by Meryl Streep, which is the only reason I listened. The story was fine, not amazing. Although since it was originally written in 1983, it was fun to listen to a book where people didn’t have cell phones, email, or any modern technology that we have.

Well, that’s 15 books this month and brings my 2018 total to 168. I’m 96% to my goal of 175 books. Maybe I’ll make it to 200 books this year, only time will tell. I’ve just booked a bunch of travel so that will either be good for reading or bad, only time will tell! Catch up on previous editions of “what I read”: January, February, March, AprilMay, June, July, August, September,