The Reading Report, Vol. 10: A Little Spring Cleaning

We woke up to a light coating of very wet snow on the grass and trees yesterday, all glittering in the sunshine and making the woods look like a fairy world. But by mid-day, the snow had melted completely, as I expected since it is nearly spring in Middle Tennessee! I know a lot of people start talking about spring cleaning this time of year, and we get to itching to air out the house after being shut up for so long. I participated in a local consignment sale over the weekend and hauled out a bunch of the kids outgrown clothes from last year. Of course, I also brought home a fresh batch up new-to-us duds for this spring and summer.

It would also happen that I noticed this week that my reading life has gotten a bit messy lately. I have started a lot of books already this year, but I haven’t finished nearly so many. My mental  book lists are in quite a jumble! Even though my physical book shelves may appear pretty tidy, I feel like my reading life is in desperate need of a good decluttering session. Do you ever feel that way? Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I get overeager to read “all the things.” Then I get overwhelmed with decision fatigue every time I sit down to read because I can’t figure out just which book I should pick up and keep reading. I know some people can have up to 10 books going at the same time, but I don’t think I am one of those people.

In order to clean up my reading life, I am going to shelve a bunch of the books I have started, just for the time being, and focus on just a few at a time. My approach to doing this needs to be balanced so that I always have some different types of reading material to choose from. My goal is to have only 3-4 books in progress at the same time. I aim to keep at least 2 fiction books on the docket at all times, one print and one audio. I also always need to be working through just 1 non-fiction devotional or self-help book. (This is the most challenging genre for me to actually finish, so just reading one at a time will help me stay on task.) Since I am continuously reading something aloud with my son, usually a new book for us both, I count it as part of my personal reading, as well.

Books I’m Keeping on My Active List:

True Grit–this is the newest selection for the Close Reads podcast. I am halfway through this book already, and I have relished it so far. It is not only a quick-moving book, but it is surprisingly humorous. I have also been intrigued by the many references to Scripture and bits of moral commentary.

White Fang–I chose this book for the “Classic with a Color in the Title” portion of the Back to the Classics Challenge because I already had it on audio. I have to admit, I was not prepared for the vivid descriptions of mistreatment of dogs that make up a large part of the storyline. It has not been an easy listen, although it is an excellent piece of literature and a compelling story. Painful but powerful…I think that is how I would describe this book.

Hello Mornings–I am determined to finish this book by the end of the month! It was the selection for the February focus in the Cultivating the Lovely Podcast Patreon group, but I didn’t get started until halfway through the month. I am enjoying and gleaning some good insights, but it is just slow going for me because of the genre.

Dr. Dolittle–this is our new family read aloud. I am sure it won’t take us very long as the book is not thick, and the story is a fun one!

Books I’m Shelving for Now:

The Wreath–I was borrowing this from the library and hadn’t gotten far enough in before the due date to merit renewing it. It’s on my B2tC Challenge list, so I will get back to it sooner or later!

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (and the Key)–another B2tC Challenge book that I started with good intention. But this one is a painful read for me, and I can’t have more than one of those going at the same time. Maybe I will pick it back up when I finish one of my other fiction books.

Full–I do want to finish this book very soon. I only wish I had started it at the beginning of the 40 Day Sugar Fast because once that was over, I lost motivation to read the book, too!

Utopia–Another B2tC title that I started and couldn’t get into right away. I have had this book sitting on my bookshelf since college days and have never read the whole thing. I WILL finish it this year if it’s the last things I do, ha!

Better Together–I did read the first several chapters of Pam Barnhill’s new book, and I am really enjoying it so much! I just can’t read everything at once, and since I am pretty content with our current Morning Time and school schedule at the moment, I decided to put this on hold for the time being. I may come back to it during break week, though, just for a fresh bit of inspiration during my planning for the next term. (I do highly recommend you get your hands on this book before March 31, 2018 so you can get the fun exclusive bonuses Pam is offering! Just order through my Amazon affiliate link, then go to the Better Together book page and fill out the form at the bottom of the page to claim your bonus!)

The Spiritual Life–I started this yesterday on one of our long drives to and from church because I had forgotten to bring a book or knitting along for the ride. It is another of my B2tC titles, and I am looking forward to reading this as a devotional supplement, once I get finished with my other books in that genre.

Books I’ve Finished Lately:

Frankenstein–Having finished this book, my reaction was mixed. I was glad to have read it and gotten rid of all my pop-culture saturated ideas about what it would be like. I did find it a captivating and suspenseful read. There were some very thought-provoking ideas presented throughout the book. However, I also felt that I had to have a willing suspension of disbelief about the way Frankenstein acted throughout much of the story. Perhaps he really was a genius, but he did not display a lot of common sense or ability to foresee the consequences of his actions. His failure to take proper responsibility for the creature he had made really, really bothered me. But I guess that was part of the point of the story.

Farmer Boy–My son and I just finished this one together, and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole book. Even the 2 year old found it enjoyable when she happened to be around. Of course, all the descriptions of food make this a book you don’t want to read when you are hungry! But as a model of a hard-working boy who not only did his work but grew to love it, Farmer Boy is pretty hard to beat!

Babe, the Gallant Pig–this was a quick, fun little book to read on a quiet afternoon! I’ve loved the film version of Babe since it came out waaaay back in 1995 (honestly, how did that get to be so long ago!?), but I somehow missed the fact that there was a book until just recently. My son read it on his own and thought it was great, too. My one word of caution, however, if you are thinking of handing this over to your independent readers….the author uses the “technical term” for a female dog throughout to refer to the mother collie. I did not know this until after my son read the book, and I was reading it myself. He did not mention it, and having not come across this word in daily life, it is probable he just skimmed over it. However, if I had it to do over again, I would probably do this one as a family read-aloud and edit that out as I read!

Well, I think that’s about it for this round of the Reading Report! How is your reading life these days? Do you have any readerly spring cleaning to do? Or is your booklist already nice and tidy? I’d love for you to leave a comment and tell me what you’ve been reading lately!

Tired, but Trusting #fiveminutefriday

Earlier this week, I was so tired of the way things have been going in life that I just wanted to give up. I was tired of the financial strain, tired of plans not working out the way we’d hoped, tired of having to wonder what to do next, just tired of always feeling like the underdog. But I knew I had to just get up and keep putting one foot in front of the other and trusting God through it all. I realized as I sought Him that even though I’m tired, I still have work to do. Even if our situation never changes, I have to be faithful in the little things, day to day. He has given me tasks, mundane though they may seem, that do not change regardless of where we live or what our situation is. I can never grow weary of loving my children, of supporting my husband, of serving my church or of taking care of my own health. Yes, I may be physically tired, even emotionally and mentally exhausted at times, but I cannot let myself become so worn down by worldly cares that I stop being faithful to the Lord. More than any other time, I need to go to Him with my burdens and let Him renew my strength. I need to be refreshed by His Word and walk on, doing the good work He has given me to do in this season. I can rest in Him and know the harvest is coming!

“Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Galatians 6:9

“Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous fall.”
Psalm 55:22

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary;
they will walk and not be faint.”
Isaiah 40:31

This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here

Taking the Next Step

Taking the Next Step

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn that sends us reeling, wondering how to take the next step. That’s what happened last week when we found out our house sale was not going to happen. After all the planning we had set in motion, we found ourselves back at square one, not sure what to do next. For several days I felt like I was just wandering aimlessly around the house, in a total fog. Yes, I was doing the necessary things to keep the household running, but beyond that, I had no sense of direction.

What can we do when life throws us a curve ball like that? Yes, we pray. We dig into God’s Word. We keep trusting Him. Those spiritual practices must be our anchors. We draw closer to God in the hard times than the easy ones, certainly. But what do we do practically to keep moving forward in the day to day? How do we come out of that fog and regain a sense of direction?

For me, I think I need to go back to the goals I made at the beginning of the year. I need to remember the fundamental vision I have for my relationships, my work, and my personal well-being. My situation may change, but the basic desires of my heart are the same. I want to grow in and through trials, and I need to remember that good growth happens slowly, one tiny step at a time. Even though I can’t see very far down the road, I can see far enough to take the next small step, to do the next right thing.

Drink an extra glass of water.

Do a load of laundry.

Read a book or two to my daughter.

Play a board game with my son.

Make extra time for my husband in the evening.

Set up some time out with a friend next week.

Create that new webpage I’ve been planning.

Finish that spiritual growth book I’ve been reading.

These are relatively small things. But they add up to growth. They get me moving in the right direction toward my goals. I have to keep just putting one foot in front of the other, trusting God to lay the path to bigger things before me while being faithful in the small ones.

What do you do when life throws you for a loop? How do you take the next step forward in faith? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. I try to reply to every one!