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2018 Book List

2018 Book List

One of my favorite things about beginning a new calendar year is choosing which books I want to read in the coming months.

I like to read one book at a time and one book per month seems to be a good pace for me. I also like to read slowly and take notes as I go (these are my favorite journals for book notes) so I can go back and review the highlights later.

I lean toward books that challenge me to think in a new way or look at the world from a new perspective; books that teach me something or inspire me or help me grow in some area of my life. I use the following categories as a basic framework:

Health/Lifestyle
Spiritual
Personal
Business

What I'm Working On This Summer

What I'm Working On This Summer

I’ve been a little quiet over here lately, but it’s not for lack of things to say or write about! 

The end of the school/church year is always busy (am I right?!), and this year was no exception (read more about what I've been up to lately below).

I’ve also been hard at work on a few big projects and am right in the middle of planning ahead for some exciting things for the fall.

Today, instead of keeping you all in suspense, I thought I’d give you a behind-the-scenes look at exactly what I’m working on this summer.

Enjoy!

Summer 2017 Bucket List

Summer 2017 Bucket List

Happy summer!

It’s the last week of school here, and the week leading up to Children’s/Youth Sunday and I have my sights set on summer - slow evenings on the patio, trips to the lake, and a good book (or two).

Our summers are relatively short here, so we try to take advantage of every opportunity we can to be outside, enjoying the longer days, (somewhat) slower pace, and beautiful weather while it lasts.

So, I made a list, obviously.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Start Here.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Start Here.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? You know the feeling:

Tired.
Distracted.
Uninspired.
Slightly frantic.
Unable to make decisions.
Burnt out.

For me, these are the tell-tale signs that I'm feeling overwhelmed. Why does this happen? How do we get overwhelmed in the first place? Here are six common reasons. Do any of these resonate with you?

When I start to feel overwhelmed, I try to stop and ask myself these questions:

- Am I saying “yes” to too many things? 
- Am I unable or unwilling to relinquish control of something or ask for help? 
- Am I chasing the thrill of achievement and productivity? 
- Can I live up to my own expectations?

These are hard questions to ask. But understanding how we got here, to this place of overwhelm, is important to learning how to overcome it, now and in the future. 

Eight Festive Advent Calendars

Eight Festive Advent Calendars

Advent is just a few short weeks away (it begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving this year). It's a season of hope, patience, expectation, waiting. The people were walking in darkness. They knew the Light would come one day, but they didn't know when. Instead, they walked in faith, believing that redemption was near.

Every year, we remember (in some small way) the waiting - the walking-by-faith part of the story. This is why I love Advent calendars - a tangible way to count the days, to journey through Advent with a spirit of hope and expectation.

When I was growing up, we had a large felt Advent calendar shaped like a tree with a small ornament for each day. We also had an array of paper calendars with doors to open and Scripture verses to read (some even had chocolate inside!). For the past few years, SD and I have displayed this lovely Scripture card Advent calendar by Oh My Deer (included in the list below).

Meet Rory

Meet Rory

Meet Rory!

Since we recently celebrated our three-month dog-iversary, I thought I'd share a little more about our sweet rescue pup and how we're all settling in.

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Rory is a lab/greyhound mix, just over a year old. We got her through Helping Hounds in Syracuse, NY - a dog rescue organization that works with shelters in Texas and Alabama. 

Many shelters in the South are over-capacity and cannot keep dogs that are surrendered or found as strays. Organizations like Helping Hounds identify adoptable dogs, place them in short-term foster care programs, then transport them up north for adoption. Rory was in a foster home for two weeks before coming up to Syracuse with 40+ other dogs. Many of the dogs from the transport were adopted the weekend they arrived.

This Is My Story, This Is My Song

This Is My Story, This Is My Song

A few weeks ago, the youth led worship. They planned skits and a children's message, wrote prayers, made T-shirts, wrote testimonials, and chose music. They poured their hearts into this service. And it showed.

The overall theme was packing for a long journey - carrying extra baggage through life and trying to do it all on their own until Jesus revealed himself to them and offered to carry their burdens. But instead of playing fictional characters, the youth assumed their own identities - they were themselves and the baggage they carried were real things they struggle with in their own lives.

One high schooler shared her struggle with depression and anxiety.

Another about grief and loss.

One talked about turning her back on God, the way He sought her, and the joy she's found in returning to Him.

A 6th grader spoke about taking a stand and choosing to believe in God even when her friends and teachers try to tell her He doesn't exist. 

Getting Perspective 30,000 Feet In the Air

Getting Perspective 30,000 Feet In the Air

Sometimes, I need a little perspective. Because when I'm immersed in the details of planning, creating, teaching, and making music, it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. And sometimes, it takes getting to 30,000 feet above the earth to get the perspective I crave.

.  .  .  .  .

A few weeks ago, SD and I flew south to sunny FL. He had a composition residency (rehearsals, presentation, and two premieres), I had a visit with church music friends (choir rehearsal, duet practice, and three services). 

We packed our bathing suits, new books, and clothes we haven't worn since last summer, and left our new home nestled in two feet of fluffy white snow.

The airport was quiet as we navigated to our gate, sandwiches from Au Bon Pain in hand. We nestled into our seats and I looked out the window (because SD always lets me have the window seat) at the grey morning sky.