Category Archives: Goals

Tale as Old as Time

I had to choose a song from Beauty and the Beast in honor of book-loving Belle for this post. Another goal accomplished – 100 books read or listened to in 2014. I actually read 111 plus or minus a couple I either read at the end of 2013 or forgot to log because I couldn’t find it in my search histories. You can see my Books Read in 2014 board on Pinterest.

I’m not doing a traditional Top Ten (or whatever number) favorite book but rather highlighting ones that particularly captured my attention. For one, I had three friends publish their debut novels and picking a favorite from these diverse novels would be second to choosing which of my kids I love best.

My favorite book was The Night Circus. It’s sort of a double win because not only is it a fantastic read but also because it’s narrated by (swoon) Jim Dale. That man could read the ingredients list to Pop Tarts and I’d be enthralled. Of course, he’s better at speculative fiction novels as he is the voice of the Harry Potter audio books. It was my favorite because it was an absolutely unpredictable flight of fancy. The only negative was an f-bomb planted in the first chapter. Language isn’t a huge deal with me but I despise gratuitous profanity.

Fellow Scriblerians Cynthia Toney and Vanessa Morton published their debut novels as did one of my oldest writing friends, Nancy Kimball.

Cynthia’s Bird Face is a hilarious book about junior high aged Wendy. It touches serious topics with the best humor. I absolutely died laughing during parts of it. A hilarious reminder of those awkward years. When I began writing, I prayed for critique partners. Tim and Cynthia formed the group that would become known as The Scriblerians. I was so happy because Bird Face had me from the first chapter.

Vanessa has been with us from the beginning and her book Moonfall captured my attention in a totally different way. It’s part Biblical fiction part fantasy as she tells a fascinating story of the woman we know as Rahab. But her Rahab who is named Rachav, is an identical twin prone to visions. Intrigued? How can you not be? Vanessa has a passion for archaeology and it’s obvious in the rich details of ancient Jericho.

Nancy and I bonded over our love of heroes and we have mutual crushes on our own creations. Then again what is there to not love of Jonathan Tarquinius from Chasing the Lion. From the “man of twelve” running through the streets of Rome to the hardened on the outside, tender in the middle gladiator of the end. Chasing the Lion is an at times gritty story that honors the redemptive power of Christ. I actually “read” it twice once in print and once in audio. Joseph Narducci is another swoon-worthy narrator.

I didn’t read as many classics as I normally read with two of the three Divine Comedies being the only non-twentieth/twenty-first century books I read this year. I did tackle a few modern classics: Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace, Fahrenheit 451, and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

I don’t include Bible studies that I do but there were two Christian non-fiction titles that I read. Both are excellent and quite different. My mentor and I discussed Grace-Based Parenting and I read the short but weighty The End of Christendom.

I “reread” the Harry Potter Books in audio form. More Jim Dale. I also started the audio series A Song of Fire and Ice, more popularly known by it’s television show title “A Game of Thrones”. This is another well narrated story.

Of course, I had to read some dystopian because I love that genre. I knew this year would be bittersweet. One of my favorite series by Jill Williamson who is one of my favorite authors published her third and final book in the Safe Lands series. Rebels ended the series in a most satisfying way.

Alas I didn’t have to mourn the end of a good series because Nadine Brandes put out the first book in her Out of Time series. A Time to Die has a cool concept that pulled me right in and makes me impatient for the next installment. Everyone wears a clock with their death timed to the last second. Katie Clark debuted with Vanquished the first in her dystopian Enslaved series. Another one that pulled me in and made me crave more.

It’s the fifth day of the new year and I’ve already finished two audio books and started my third. I’m also deep into my first e-book and I’m almost finished with Unbroken which I’m reading in print. Here’s to a new year of good books.

What was your favorite book of 2014?

Happy reading.

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Seize the Day

Carolyn Arends’s “Seize the Day” has been my anthem since my days traveling through the Midwest for my first job out of college. As I wrote in my post last week, I already try to live like my days are numbered. Because they are; some will live to 100  and some will die tomorrow. Or today. I write this post with a heavy heart. A young woman I’ve been praying for passed away this morning. While there is joy she’ll spend eternity in health, I mourn for a vibrant life numbered with barely two decades on earth.

As part of the launch of A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes, we are writing about what we would do if we only had a year to live. This isn’t something I’ve spent much time pondering. My grandmother lived to one hundred and my grandfather just turned ninety. My other grandparents lived long lives too. My parents are in their sixties and plan vacations around Rails to Trails bike paths.

But I was recently touched by someone who didn’t have a long timeline. Last year, I lost a friend who left behind a husband, children, and a model of how to make the most of your days. She showed me in real life how to spend days, hours, and minutes with the utmost abandon. Her intentionality to leave a legacy for her family was inspiring.

So how would I spend my last year? My infinitely practical mind went to what I would have to do: work, shuttle the kids, do laundry, and keep the kitchen from becoming a chemistry experiment let alone the bathrooms [shudder]. Not to mention making sure my husband and children would be taken care of after I was gone.

But what would I want to do? That’s where I had to go with this.

If I could choose my last year like Parvin does, it would involve being able to have financial provisions for my family to take off the entire year. I’d travel the world. I would want to have as many new experiences as I could with my family. I’d make sure I visited my extended family, especially my parents, my sister, her family, & my grandfather. I’d visit aunts and uncles. But mostly, I’d travel with my husband and kids. We’d try as many exotic foods as we could. We’d visit as many places as possible. And have as many experiences as we could. My dream experiences would be:

  • Taking my family to Yellowstone. We’d have to camp at least one night, stay in a cabin, and spend a night each in Lake Lodge and the Old Faithful Inn.
  • Go on an Alaskan cruise and visit the interior of the state, Kenai Peninsula, and Dawson City, Yukon.
  • See a Broadway play; this might be the only time I’d consider leaving the kids. It would be special time with my husband but the thought of days without my kids with such a limited timeframe is painful.
  • Visit Prince Edward Island (the only Canadian Province I haven’t visited).
  • Go skiing with my sister’s family, probably in Colorado but I’m not picky.
  • White water raft and water ski – two of my bucket list items
  • I would travel to South America – Machu Pichu is the top of my list, and I’d want to visit hot springs in Chile because I wrote about them
  • I want to spend time in England, Ireland, and Scotland because London is all I’ve seen of the UK and never visited Ireland. And haggis is a bucket list dish.
  • Spend a few days in Paris then take a train to the French Riviera. I’d spend those days in France eating, eating, and eating some more. And I’d do nothing but lie on the beach once I hit the Mediterranean. Well, I’d eat.
  • I’d also make sure to go to Germany. Because if there’s anything I love more than French cuisine, it’s German cuisine.
  • Which brings me to the next stop, Japan. I’d have to visit Okinawa where I spent the summer of 2003 as well as the mainland. Another place that I’d fuel up on awesome food. And visit an onsen (bathhouse) something I didn’t do when I stayed there the first time.
  • I want to go to Greece, Turkey, the Holy Land & Egypt (so I could say I visited Africa). To visit where Paul spread Christianity. Walk where Jesus walked. And if you know me, the pool at Bethesda would be one of my Jerusalem stops. I have a bit of an obsession with hot springs.
  • I’d travel to Australia to make sure I visited all continents. Also, who doesn’t want to go to Australia? I might even get up the courage to SCUBA dive. I’m kind of claustrophobic, but if I’m going to die anyway why not expire seeing the Great Barrier Reef.

I’m pretty sure I have more days planned than a person could do in a year but maybe it’s because the thought of such a limited time terrifies me. There’s so much I want to experience, that I feel limited by a lifetime that could easily span forty, fifty, sixty years. Or I could die tomorrow.

If I do die tomorrow I have two wishes, someone scour my hard drive and shape up my stories so they can be published posthumously and play The Newsboys’ “Breakfast Club” at my funeral. I’m sure the older people will be horrified, but it’s the message I want to leave.

SIDE NOTE: I told my 10-year old about the assignment. He said: Break the clock and live longer!

Both my son and I know our eternity is secure, but we want to make the most of the time we have here on earth. And it’s not just eating exotic foods and crossing items off a bucket list. It’s living each day for God. It’s being Jesus to those around us. Being His hands and feet. And with that, I hope to leave this world a little better place whether or not I ever see Machu Pichu or eat haggis.

What would you do if you only had one year to live?

You-Have-One-Year

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall —— her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

ATimetoDieCov

Connect with Nadine Brandes on her website (http://nadinebrandes.com)
Facebook (http://facebook.com/NadineBrandesAuthor)
Twitter, (http://twitter.com/nadinebrandes)
Goodreads (http://goodreads.com/nadinebrandes/)

And speaking of limited time: There’s less than 10 days left in her prize giveaway!
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/N2MyNDRlMzE3YWMwNTQ2MWU4N2M2MzJkYzY2N2IzOjEy/

 

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