A great reading year 

I will probably not reach my goal of reading 50 books this year. 

Right now I’m at 43  with 3 books to finish. 

But I’m proud of my reading list. The range of topics and the mix of fiction and nonfiction was perfect!

Plus, I had a LOT of fun. 

The books that I chose were interesting and educational, inspirational and challenging. 

Also, I’ve recommended more books this year than ever before. 

Getting to know my friends and their reading habits was quite an experience. 

It taught me that paying attention in conversation is the best way to know what someone will read and enjoy. 

Overall, 2015 has been a great reading year. 

Going back to school will definitely change my 2016 reading list…

I’m hoping to squeeze in some personal selections (aka non-school related). 

Who knows if that will happen until the summer, but I’m not complaining. 

What are some books you’ve enjoyed reading this year?
Did you reach your reading goal?

Confessions of a Word Collector

I am a word collector.

I collect inspiring words.

brain depositoryI write them down in my brain depository, which is really just my notebook. (Yes, I used the thesaurus to find a synonym of notebook. I am that person.)

It’s impossible to listen to smart people without writing down their words of wisdom.

I encourage you to become a word collector too. Buy a notebook or use one of the million note taking apps.

Here’s 10 of my favorite quotes from this year. If I got it from a book, I’ll give you the title.

  1. “To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.”  -Dr. Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
  2. “How can we be loved if we are always hiding?” -Donald Miller, Scary Close
  3. “Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace up shoes.” -Stephen King, On Writing
  4. “You know what it is about someone that makes them a friend? A friend doesn’t just say things; a friend does.” -Bob Goff, Love Does
  5. “Passion is often found in the crucible of work.” -Jon Acuff, Do Over
  6. “Servants can go places kings can’t.” -Jon Weece, Jesus Prom
  7. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” -Sunni Brown, The Doodle Revolution
  8. “Grace treats us like we already are what we fear we will never become.” -Beth Moore, taken from Wednesdays in the Word on Life Today
  9. “If you stay in a rut long enough, it will become a grave.” -Christine Caine, taken from one of her many teachings on YouTube
  10. “The ministry of the heart is the sole responsibility of the individual, yet few people ever learn how to consistently influence their hearts in a deliberate way.” -Dr. James Richards, How to Stop the Pain 

A Woman’s Wisdom

A proverb a day keeps foolishness at bay. 

The book of Proverbs is full of great advice and wisdom. The wisest guy in the world (Solomon) shared with us the things he learned. 

I think Solomon’s a wonderful example of what to do with God’s gifts–use them to help others. 

Sure, he was human and had a lot of wives. Still, though, it doesn’t discount his contribution. 

I’m excited to read A Woman’s Wisdom: How the proverbs speak to everything by Lydia Brownback. 

  She talks about the role of wisdom and all the things we can learn from Proverbs. 

Check it out if you get the chance. 

I just started it, but it’s been great so far. 

Building Windmills

Choices, choices

Choices, choices

Today I needed pens for my office and I had 518 options.

Not everyone has these kind of options.

In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba built a windmill using parts from a junkyard. He did it without modern tools too. 

There were no trips to Lowe’s or Home Depot to agonize over 50 brands of hammers.

And William still managed to bring electricity to Malawi.

A whole country found hope because one boy got busy.

What could be accomplished if we stopped complaining about not having the right tools? The right education? The right job?

You can own 518 different pens and never write that book. A garage full of tools and never rebuild that classic car. harnessing wind

Are too many options crippling us as a people?

My circumstances will never be perfect enough to do ___________.

Yours won’t either.

As a kid, I rarely had a complete set of toys.

I collected toys from yard sales and thrift shops. I made my toys houses out of cardboard boxes.

Countless hours were spent weaving stories in my own little world.

What I had was enough. My imagination had no limits.

And then adulthood crashed my party.

“You’re an adult now. Play time’s over.” is something I’ve heard a lot since graduating college.

But I don’t want to spend half my life hating my life.

I’m willing to pay the price for doing things differently. It’s better, to me, than waking up one day and realizing I’ve been asleep for 50 years.

Which brings me back to having enough….

Here’s my favorite definition of contentment:

Contentment is knowing that I already have everything I need to be happy.

What I have–right now–is enough.

There’s nothing I can’t accomplish if I already have what I need.

It’s time for you and I to build some windmills.

Must Read: All Over but the Shoutin’

All Over but the Shoutin‘ is one of my favorite books. I read it just about every year. 

  My high school librarian, Ms. Laurie Dunlap, recommended the book to me. 

(Now that I think about it, she introduced me to many of my favorite books.  I need to take her out to lunch one day to say thanks.)

Rick Bragg is a natural born storyteller. 

He has a way of finding the light in the darkest of stories, but he’s also not a liar, which is refreshing. 

This book is a biography that focuses on his mom’s sacrifices to provide the best life possible for himself and his brothers, Sam and Mark. 

This is the first book that made me cry. I was sitting in math class and I couldn’t stop the tears. 

If you enjoy biographies, I highly recommend this book. 

Must Read: Love, Skip, Jump

I have another book recommendation for you.

If you’ve ever wondered what you can do to help others, then this is the book for you .

Shelene Bryan’s solution is simple.

Skip something.

A coffee.

Lunch.

A movie.

It doesn’t matter how much your skip costs. Any amount can help someone in need.

Love, Skip, Jump explains how and why Shelene Bryan, founder of Skip1.org, started her ministry.

bookThis book is challenging my perspective on how I choose to use my time, money, and resources.

Like I said before, if you’ve ever wanted to help and just don’t see how you can, this book is for you.

Give it a read.

And I promise your perspective will be changed too.

Must Read: Tangerine

Rereading books from your childhood can be a lot of fun. Some books are still equally as awesome now as they were back then. Others? Well, you end up chuckling at your taste.

 I recently reread Tangerine by Edward Bloor. The story sucked me in! I had a hard time putting it down.

The story centers around Paul Fisher and his family. There’s a lot of unanswered questions, things swept under the rug. His parents are so involved in his older brother Eric’s football career that they barely pay attention to Paul’s talent in soccer.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the Fishers’ move to Tangerine, Florida is the catalyst for major change. The box of skeletons they tried to leave behind moved with them and you know how skeletons don’t stay hidden forever…

I highly recommend this book. It’s still one of my favorites from childhood. If you end up reading it, let me know what you think.

Must Read: Who You Are

 Who You Are by John Croyle is one of my favorite books.
I bought it in February and I have read it three times this year!
If you are not familiar with John Croyle, he used to play football for the University of Alabama (UA).  His son, Brodie, also played at UA and then played six years of professional football.
But, most people don’t know John Croyle from his football years. They know him as the director of the Big Oak Ranch, which is a home for abandoned, abused, and neglected children.

I’ll put a link to their website at the bottom of this post. 

Who You Are is a book about not letting your past define you. Mr. John draws from his 40 years of experience with at-risk kids who have defied the odds and found hope because of Big Oak Ranch.

I highly recommend this book to those who need a fresh reminder that a bright future is available to anyone who wants one. No one is beyond hope.

This book has encouraged me to keep walking down the road toward my own bright future.  I think it can help you on your journey as well.

Big Oak Ranch website:

http://www.bigoak.org