Sunday, January 1, 2017

Books I've Read - September-December 2016

Mere Christianity 
by C.S. Lewis
I tried to read this book years ago, but it was just too heady for me. My preacher mentioned it in one of his current series and it dawned on me that I should try again. It's brilliant. I am in awe at how progressive and amazing C.S. Lewis's mind was. His story is so fascinating to me and his insights into God are still too "heady" for me. Man, am I glad I went back and read this now. I'm sure it's one of those that I can read again and again and learn more and more each time I read it!

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
by Donald Miller
Ever since I read Blue Like Jazz I truly appreciate Donald Miller. This book came out in 2009, but it only just landed on my radar earlier this year. I loved this book - Don is so honest and real and just self-deprecating enough for me to feel like he truly understands humans. There are a couple of slow (read: boring) parts (in my opinion) but he has so many great snippets of wisdom and he's just so real that I found myself intrigued. If you've never read Donald Miller's books, I'd recommend it.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 
by Lewis Carroll
I had always wanted to read this children's book and since Amelia Jayne and I are always in the car together I thought this might be a good audiobook for us. The movie is whimsical and bizarre, but the book is just downright weird! Lol! I thought she would ask to turn it off many times because it really is kind of difficult to follow, plus it has 19th century language that we don't use and that she definitely didn't understand, but she didn't seem to mind. I'm sure she didn't get everything that was going on, but she laughed at certain parts and seemed to enjoy it!

Scary Close 
by Donald Miller
His most recent book. This was mostly about his relationship with his girlfriend and now wife, but told in the same great tone that is Donald Miller's.

Jesus Feminist
by Sarah Bessey
Oh, Sarah. There were many things about this book that I loved. I especially love the way Sarah Bessey writes. Her tone and language are refreshing. I felt so encouraged while reading this book - kind of like she is for me. I don't know if that makes sense, but I just felt understood and accepted. Here's a quote from the book that I just love and identify with:
"In my black-and-white-rhetoric-only years, I struggled with understanding or accepting the tensions of God. I struggled with the Both-And nature of most of God's work and character, preferring the linear Either-Or.
He is both just and loving, the Lion and the Lamb. He is truth and grace. We practice works and live by faith. We are in God's Kingdom and not yet living in the fullness of heaven today. By his stripes we are healed, and our suffering perfects our faith. Men and women are equal in worth and value, and yet we are servants of one another. Jesus tells us God is our tender and good Father, and yet in other metaphors, he is more akin to a Lover. Our marriages are a symbol of Christ and the Church, and yet according to Paul, it's better to remain single. The paradoxes of the Christian faith abound, and they used to drive me a bit crazy. Because, well, which one is it? We want to know because then we would have a new law and new mandate, and life would be much easier."

This is the kind of stuff you'll read in this book. So good. I'm pretty sure that I've just realized I'm a Jesus Feminist. :)

Searching for Sunday
by Rachel Held Evans
I am grateful for her perspective and vision and wisdom. I struggle with many of the things she writes about because, like her, I grew up conservative and evangelical. But, I am being introduced to my Jesus in a whole new way and realize that my Father in heaven is far bigger and greater than any of my little thoughts or the tiny little teachings that have come across my ears. God's love for his people is bigger than anything I could ever comprehend. And He truly LOVES all people. Love wins.

"I confess to citing these numbers ominously myself from time to time, especially when I want to make a point about how millennials are losing faith in the church over issues related to politics, sexuality, science, and social justice. I may have uttered something along the lines of "adapt or die" in my writing once or twice. I may have jumped the gun and administered last rites. But lately I've been wondering if a little death and resurrection might be just what church needs right now, if maybe all this talk of waning numbers and shrinking influence means our empire-building days are over, and if maybe that's a good thing. Death is something empires worry about, not something gardeners worry about. It's certainly not something resurrection people worry about."

"I don't know exactly what this new revolution will look like, but as the center of Christianity shifts from the global West to the global South and East, and as Christians in the United States are forced to gauge the success of the church by something other than money and power, I hope it looks like altars transforming to tables, gates transforming into open doors, and cure-alls transforming into healing oils. I hope it looks like a kingdom that belongs not to the rich, but to the poor, not to the triumphant but to the meek, not to the culture warriors but to the peacemakers. If Christianity must die, may it die to the old way of dominance and control and be resurrected to the Way of Jesus, the Way of the cross."

What Now?
by Ann Patchett
What a beautiful little treasure I stumbled upon! I'm going to leave you with these quotes from this short, but poignant and invigorating essay.
"There's a time in our lives when we all crave the answers. It seems terrifying not to know what's coming next. But there is another time, a better time, when we see our lives as a series of choices and What now represents our excitement and our future, the very vitality of life. It's up to you to choose a life that will keep expanding. It takes discipline to remain curious; it takes work to be open to the world - but oh my friends, what noble and glorious work it is. Maybe this is the moment you shift from seeing What now as one more thing to check off the list and start to see it as two words worth living by."

"If you're trying to find out what's coming next, turn off everything you own that has an OFF switch and listen. Make up some plans and change them. Identify your heart's truest desire and don't change that for anything. Be proud of yourself for the work you've done."

The Little House on the Prairie
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I listened to this audiobook with my baby-girl. I was so surprised she sat through the whole thing. She asked very poignant and interesting questions. I had kind of forgotten some of the racism and political incorrectness that's mentioned in this book due to the era in which it was written. I'm willing to embrace our history and teach it to my kids so that we don't repeat it, but it makes for some slightly awkward conversations. I'll look at it as an opportunity that presented itself for me to teach my daughter open-mindedness and acceptance of others who are different than us.

The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion
This was supposed to be a book I had previously abandoned and I ended up abandoning it again! I'm pretty sure it's over between us. It just moved too slowly and, though the storyline seemed interesting, it bored me. And ain't nobody got time for that.

Life Together
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This was interesting. Kind of slow at times and honestly reminded me somewhat of C. S. Lewis, due to the time period, I'm guessing. I am fascinated with Bonhoeffer these days and plan to read a biography on him soon.

Love Does
by Bob Goff
Yes! Love Does!! This was sweet. I find this incredibly challenging to apply because I tend to live inside of my head too much and don't always allow my knowledge, interests or emotions to move into action. Unfortunately I often tend to hang back and am fearful of actions. This has certainly given me some food for thought...and action. :)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge - the final results

Here are the results of the reading challenge from this year. If you're interested in looking at the list for next year here's the link for Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge.

1) A book published this year -
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
by JK Rowling

2) A book you can finish in a day -
What Now?
by Ann Patchett

3) A book you've been meaning to read -
Career of Evil
by Robert Galbraith

4) A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller -
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

5) A book you should have read in school -
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith

6) A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF -
Killing Jesus
by Bill O'Reilly

7) A book published before you were born -
Life Together
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

8) A book that was banned at some point -
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by JK Rowling

9) A book you previously abandoned -
The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion - I kind of abandoned this one again - oops

10) A book you own but have never read -
by David Platt

11) A book that intimidates you -
Mere Christianity
by C.S. Lewis

12) A book you've already read at least once -
Redeeming Love
by Francine Rivers

Monday, October 24, 2016

Happy 5th birthday, Amelia Jayne!

Happy birthday, Amelia Jayne!

Here is her 5 year old interview:

TV show - The Leap Frog shows (Counting on Lemonade)
Movie - Big Hero Six
Song - Fight Song by Rachel Platten
Musician - Adele
Food - sausage
Candy - I like all of the candies, really.
Toy - stuffed animals
Activity - draw pictures
Cereal - Fruit loops
Vegetable - carrots
Drink - pink lemonade
Game - Shimmer & Shine game I got for my birthday
Book - Pinkalicious and the Pink Drink
Restaurant - McAlister's
Holiday - Christmas
Animal - Elephant
Color - Pink
Vacation - going to the lake house

If you could change your name to anything, what would it be? Elsie

If you could have anything you want this year, what would it be? more tsum sums

What do you love most about Mommy? She hugs a lot

What do you love most about Daddy?  He goes with me to the store

What do you love most about Xander?  I get to play with him a lot

Monday, September 26, 2016

What I'm into these days

The biggest thing I'm looking forward to right now is fall weather. It's officially fall on the calendar, so let's bring on some cooler weather! It looks like this week will be in the low 80's and high 70's so we're getting there...albeit slowly...

TV stuff:
Season 3 of Blacklist - it's on Netflix so I'm down with it. At times I want to turn it off because it's a bit much, but then other times I can't wait to binge-watch to see what will happen - the storyline is brilliant!

I'm finally watching the last season of Downton Abbey. It's the end of an era...

Broadchurch - have you seen it? You should watch it!!

Stranger Things - creepy and nostalgic all at the same time - am I right??

A Chef's Life - Y'all. I want to go to this restaurant so badly!! It's located in Kinston, NC in the eastern part of the state. I just love how they use local ingredients and how the chef, Vivian, comes up with her menu items based on what foods are in season. Brilliant! Delicious! So fun!!

Food stuff:
See A Chef's Life above :)

I went through another Whole 30 last month. It was liberating! I have to admit that it's amazing. It's not easy, but totally worth it.

Coffee!! I am honestly an addict. I love the stuff. And I don't mean the froo froo stuff - just a regular ol' cup o' joe.

Nourish - my group went to lunch last week and we have 3 new members! Loving it! So great to get back in the swing of things with these ladies - schedules, predictability, routine. That is making my heart sing right now.

I went to a Wildtree party last week. It was great - and the food we prepared is so yummy! If you don't know about it you should look into it. So fun!

Brave stuff:
I gave up the book club. It just wasn't for me. I tried a lot of things last year to enter into community in my community. This was one of those things that just didn't pan out for me. I'm happy to say that some other things did, but I decided to let this one go and focus on some other areas of community.

I feel like I'm always doing this, but it's worth saying that one way I am being brave is by intentionally loving my husband. Trying not to complain too much. Trying to be supportive and encouraging when he has to work late or when he's stressed out. He's an amazing man and I want to help him in any way possible. The best way of doing this is by loving him unconditionally and with intentionality.

And that goes for my babies, too - loving my children is top on my list. Sometimes I have to be courageous and bold and brave to love them in the way that is necessary. I cry sometimes when I have to discipline them or give them consequences for their actions. That's the part of parenting that is really tough for me. I'm glad I have great kids that don't require too much of that - I don't think any of us could handle all the crying. :)

Being a more intentional friend is right up there, too. I have some very dear friends who I am trying to love on with real vulnerability and intentionality. It's not always easy - we lead busy lives - but it's incredibly necessary. And as I've said before, being brave means being vulnerable.

And I am asking God to reveal himself to me each and every day. This, my friends, is one of the boldest things we can do.

Church stuff:
Hope City Church - we've been going there for a few months. They're an amazing church who is doing amazing things for Jesus. I have been proud to be part of the ConnectHer gatherings, to meet new women, to take my kids to their Sunday classes, to listen to what's been said in the sermons, but it never quite felt like home. David and I attempted to make it home, but we've realized that our home is

Ridge church.

We're going home y'all. Last weekend the kids were gone to my parents' house and David and I had some time just us. We talked and shared our hearts. We decided that it's time. It's time to go home. We'll be headed back to Ridge church. Our only issue before was the distance and lack of community because of the distance. But honestly, I've found community in other ways. I'm not relying on the church to make community for me and I've been able to branch out and meet new people right where I am. My trusted friend, Crystal, helped me work through some of my concern in not being able to serve, volunteer or be as involved as I would like to if my church was near my home. David and I believe so much in what Ridge is doing for the gospel that I feel compelled to be part of it. God's got this. I looked back at this post and this one and I love seeing all the things God has done in and through us since these words were written.

Song stuff:
Take a listen. You'll be glad you did. These songs have, at times, been salve to my broken spirit and encouragement to get me through, while reminding me of the One I serve.

Friday, September 23, 2016


This has been a hard week. Charlotte isn't just a place to me. It's my home. The people here are my people. The streets that have been filled with violence and hate are streets my husband and I walk on almost every day when we go to work. A couple of my programs are in the area where Mr. Scott was shot and killed. Some of my friends and neighbors are policemen on these streets.

I am thankful for the people who have been encouraging and supportive. People have reached out and offered prayers and thoughts and love.

I have the privilege of working predominantly with the minority population in Charlotte, NC. In the Outreach department of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library I am tasked to work with the at-risk community in our area. I go to home daycares, preschools, Headstart programs, refugee support services and underperforming schools.

I also work in an extremely diverse department. There are nine of us total - five African American women, one Indian-American woman, one Mexican-American woman, one Venezuelan-American woman and one Caucasian. These people are my friends. I am incredibly thankful to have opportunities to speak candidly, ask personal questions, get opinions, and learn new things that I would never know as a white woman in this country. I am overwhelmingly grateful that they will share their lives and their truths with me. Yesterday we cried together, encouraged each other and found hope together.

I feel the pain on both sides. I empathize with my black friends and what they're going through. I understand the fear and mistrust. I cry that we live in a world where people are treated unjustly.

I don't really know what to say except that LOVE is the answer. And, since I can't do anything greater than that, LOVE is what I'll do.

Please take some time to listen to this sermon by Andy Stanley. It is incredibly moving.

And please:

Friday, September 9, 2016

Books I've Read - May-August 2016

The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers
1. A Voice in the Wind
2. An Echo in the Darkness
3. As Sure as the Dawn
I've read these before, but I thought it was time to reread this series. It didn't disappoint. My mom still hasn't made it through the first one, but I just love this series. To each his own, I guess, right? I like the historical elements Francine Rivers brings into her novels. She must've done a crazy amount of research for these books. Quite fascinating to me.

Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen
Eh. I don't think I'll be reading anymore Klassen. It's not very well written, the storylines are only okay and the character development is poor. This was my second attempt - I read another one of her novels earlier in the year. In theory this is exactly what I would like - she writes period pieces typically set in the 1800's or early 1900's, British, and Christian. But they're just not that good.

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
This was the last book in the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children trilogy. It was definitely my favorite of the three. By this time the characters and plot line had developed nicely. I enjoyed it - weird for sure, but definitely worth the read.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
I was skeptical of the style of writing (it's a screenplay), the fact that Ms. Rowling shared the writing with others, and that she was revisiting such a beloved series that we thought had been completed.  I mean, don't mess with perfection, am I right? But let me tell you - do yourself a favor and READ THIS BOOK! If you like the series (and who doesn't??), you'll love this story. It was a fast read, captivating from the beginning, intriguing to get a glimpse of Harry Potter's future, and just downright good. I loved it.

The BFG by Roald Dahl
The kids and I have really started getting into chapter books. I loved The BFG when I was growing up, so I thought we should give it a try. Xander loved it. Amelia Jayne liked it but on certain nights I could tell she was growing restless. She always asks lots of questions, though, so I know she's paying attention. We finished that book and went to see it in the theater as a family. It was a tiny bit scary for Amelia Jayne (but I really think she was just tired and feeling restless that afternoon), but it was pretty good overall. The book was better.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Since we made it through The BFG, and my kids love Harry Potter, I figured we could go ahead and start the first book in the series. It's been slow-going, but we're making it through. We haven't quite finished it, but I'm adding it here because I think we'll be done in the next couple of weeks. The kids are having a good time comparing the book to the movie. Xander is typically enraptured, but it doesn't hold Amelia Jayne's attention as well as I wish it would - I'm pretty sure it's just too old and too British for her. ;)

And the kids and I have REALLY gotten into audiobooks! Xander told me that his first grade teacher read The Absent Author by Ron Roy to them in his class last year and that he really enjoyed it. I told him I would grab a couple for us to read. This was just before we headed to the beach, so I thought this might be a great opportunity to try out some audiobooks. The kids LOVE it! They ask as soon as we get in the car if they can listen to their books. We've made our way through the entire A to Z Mysteries series. It's been a really fun experience and I think Xander's concluded that he loves mysteries now. I highly recommend this for families - it's given us things to talk and laugh about and something fun to do together, especially in the car.

The A to Z Mysteries
A - The Absent Author
B - The Bald Bandit
C - The Canary Caper
D - The Deadly Dungeon
E - The Empty Envelope
F - The Falcon's Feathers
G - The Goose's Gold
H - The Haunted Hotel
I - The Invisible Island
J - The Jaguar's Jewel
K - The Kidnapped King
L - The Lucky Lottery
M - The Missing Mummy
N - The Ninth Nugget
O - The Orange Outlaw
P - The Panda Puzzle 
Q - The Quicksand Question
R - The Runaway Racehorse
S - The School Skeleton
T - The Talking T-Rex
U - The Unwilling Umpire
V - The Vampire's Vacation
W - The White Wolf
X - The X'ed-Out X-Ray
Y - The Yellow Yacht
Z - The Zombie Zone

Special Review:
Xander and I (and Mimi at one point) read Captain Awesome and the Missing Elephants by Stan Kirby and Xander gives it two thumbs up - he's going to read some of the others in the series soon.
A big hallmark moment - he finished reading his first chapter book all by himself!! It was Bird & Squirrel on the Run by James Burks and he highly recommends it! They're cute graphic novels that are appropriate for his age and, according to Xander, very funny. There are three more books in the series that I recently placed on hold from the library. He is currently reading Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown. He thinks it's super-funny, too. I'm looking forward to seeing what he picks next! :)

I snuck these two pictures this morning while he was at the bus stop. It makes this book-loving Mama's heart sing!!

Oh, and GO PANTHERS! (We're still die-hard fans even if their first game didn't end so well...)

First Days of School

Xander's first Day

His new teacher, Ms. Ni

The many face of Amelia Jayne: