Taking Flight

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Thankful to be out of the chilling daggers of Oklahoma’s winter winds, I slammed the door of my car and exhaled the breath I had been holding the whole walk from the Barnes and Noble front door. Actually, it was more of an equal parts sigh and exhale. The day before it had been in the 60s for a high. Today my car thermometer read 28 around mid-day.

After I took a moment to savor the shelter from the wind, I whipped out my phone from my purse to cue up Spotify and saw the email notification. Mini @ Book and Corner had nominated me for The Sunshine Blogger Award (more on what that is in a minute).

My initial thought was This is kinda cool! When I first started blogging in probably 2014, these awards weren’t a thing or at least I wasn’t aware that they were. I was a bit of an incognito blogger who maybe published once a month. I didn’t really share my posts anywhere. I hadn’t figured out the whole tags and categories benefits. I didn’t even understand or even know about the whole social media aspect to WordPress.

Then, for a couple of years I wasn’t even on WordPress. You can read more about that here. But now I’m back and I am so grateful that Mini thought of Taking Flight when she was nominating!

So here’s how this works. The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to bloggers who are creative, positive and inspiring as they spread sunshine to the blogging community. It’s a privilege to know that what I write here on Taking Flight is making a positive difference. My prayer is that God his revealing Himself through every word that is written here and I can’t help but think that this award is a small piece of proof for that.

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

So let’s get started with questions!

  1. What is your guilty pleasure? There aren’t many things that I would say are my guilty pleasure. I’m pretty comfortable in my interests and hobbies, but if I had to pick something I would say a Dr. Pepper from McDonalds. Being for a more southern state, I think it’s part of my DNA to love this fizzy beverage so if I can conveniently zip through a drive-thru on the way home and grab on for just $1, then why the heck not!
  2. If given a chance to meet an author, who would you meet and why? Assuming this has to be a living author, I would sat J.K. Rowling for obvious reasons…the woman created an instant classic with the Harry Potter series that will define my generation’s relationship with literature and reading for the rest of our lives.
  3. Why do you blog? I blog because God gave me a gift for writing that I want to invest in and make more of Jesus with. However, not only do I write about faith, but I’ll also write about book reviews and my travels…which only reminds me of the myriad of posts I have floating around in my head and pending on my drafts.
  4. Describe your reading style. Are you a planner or a random reader? I would say I’m a combination of both. I don’t set out each year with a list of books that I desperately cling to, but I also have an idea of what I’m going to read next based on a number of criteria. For example, there are a few books on my Goodreads To-Read list that are coming out with a movie in the next couple of months so between now and April I plan to read A Wrinkle in Time (which I’m currently reading), Ready Player One, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I also try to always have a religious book going so I am also reading The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel (which I would definitely recommend if deep philosophical questions are barring you from walking in faith).
  5. What would you choose; Book or Internet? Book. If I’m being honest, sometimes the internet and social media grind my gears. Technology is a double-edged sword in my opinion so I will always and forever choose a book over Internet.
  6. Three things you always carry with yourself. A book, lip balm, and my phone.
  7. Where would you like to live and why? I’ve always had some weird obsession with London, England. I think the over-2,000 years of history draw me, but also some of my favorite authors are from there. Also, one of my hobbies/goals in life is to learn French so I also think living in France for immersion purposes would be need. But realistically, I have no idea where I want to live…God will lead me where he wants me.
  8. If you had to choose one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be? Assuming this were a perfect world and I wouldn’t reap the consequences, I would say pancakes. I. Love. Pancakes. So. Stinking. Much.
  9. Tell me one fact about yourself. I wrote a novella my senior year of high school for an English project.
  10. If traveling became free, where would you like to go? United Kingdom, France, Greece, Israel, Egypt, South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand. That would be my short list!
  11. What is at the top of your bucket list? Learning French!

Now, it’s time for another round of nominations and questions! I don’t think I follow 11 blogs that have new content consistently, but here are the ones that I find to be positive and encouraging and all around fun to follow.

Editing Advantage

The Godly Chic Diaries

MySweetJesus

Okie Sunshine

RoamWildandFree

And I think if I could return the nomination and include Book and Corner here, I would. But I’m not sure that’s allowed. Any who, I can’t wait to see their responses to these questions!

  1. What television show are you watching right now (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, network TV, etc.)?
  2. More importantly, what are you reading right now?
  3. What is your coffee drink of choice?
  4. Why do you blog?
  5. If traveling were free, where would you like to go?
  6. If you were stranded on an island, what three people would you want with you?
  7. What is a feat that you think is really cool, but would never do (e.g. climbing Everest)?
  8. What are your three favorite books of all time?
  9. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
  10. What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
  11. What are your reading goals for this year?

Hope you enjoyed this break in between Thoughts on Matthew!

Sunshine Blogger

Advertisements
Standard
Books

123 Book Tag

What adds to the merriment of blogging is the community of people of like minds and common interests that comes with it. I wasn’t tagged for this book tag, but neither was the blogger (@ Book and Corner) who I followed so I figured why not give it a go anyhow. After all, I am smitten with books and that is the only reason I need to procrastinate on writing a short story for grad school to instead write a short blog post on three books. Not to mention I was having coffee with a dear friend recently and he requested more book reviews or book related posted intermittent with my posts about faith.

Without further ado, here is my 123 Book Tag!

1. A one-word book title (Uglies)

UgliesbyScottWesterfeld.jpg

2. A book with twins (Harry Potter)

Harry Potter

3. An author with three names (The Secret Life of Bees)

The Secret Life of Bees

What would you 123 Book Tag look like?

Standard
Books

11 Favorite Books from 2017

10 (3)

Sometimes it’s needed to take a break from writing and focus on something else for a bit. These past few months my time has been consumed with all things grad school. It’s a lot of work and time consuming, but it’s also been worth it so far. The work is challenging but rewarding because of the creativity I get to pour into the units and lessons I write and will eventually get to use. With each new activity I plan, I can see how my future students might react, and it only makes me more excited and full of anticipation to get into the classroom. Honestly, I wish I were already teaching, but not all of life has to happen at once.

This semester I’ve had to opportunity to re-immerse myself into one of the things I love the most – reading. I don’t think I’ve read this much since high school, but it’s been a blast reading new books and discovering new ones everyday because of my Young Adult Literature and Multicultural Children’s Literature classes! My friend Catlin and I joke about how our Goodreads “To Read” lists grow ever longer each day and how it’s a never ending list that we’ll never finish. But I think we’re okay with that! It just means we have more room to wonder in the World of Books.

Because my life has become a constant series of what-am-I-reading-next this semester, I thought I would deviate from writing a spiritual post and suggest some of my favorite books from this semester. Maybe you’ll discover your next favorite book here!

Does my Head Look Big in This?: A piece of international literature, this young adult novel is about a young muslim girl in Australia who decides to become more committed about her faith and wear the hijab full time. This would be perfect for a teenager. There’s the general angst that teens instantly relate to. And even though she is Muslim, this book is still very applicable to anyone of faith who has had to ask the tough questions about how big of a roll God, faith, and religion play in their daily life.

Uglies: Scott Westerfeld gives an original take on dystopia fiction that was inspired by an episode of The Twilight Zone in which he takes on issues from body image to environmentalism. In this society, people have complete plastic surgery-like makeovers that take them from being an Ugly to supermodel pretty. Tally, the protagonist, can’t wait to become a Pretty, especially since her best friend Peris has made the change and moved on to New Pretty Town. But that all starts to change when she finds a new friend in Shay. I remember this being a really popular read when I was in middle school but never read it until this past semester. However, I would recommend this to anyone middle school and up.

Home of the Brave: Written in verse, this novel is about a young boy who is a Sudanese refugee who has just come to America. This novel not only gives the reader some incite into the recent history of Sudan but also addresses themes such as what it means to be brave. This novel is a quick read and is great for anyone probably 4th or 5th grade and up. I could see this being a really great novel to introduce topics such as immigration and refugees to a younger age group.

The Ballad of a Broken Nose: From Norway, this international children’s book is about a shy and quirky 13-year-old eternal optimist named Bart who has a talent for opera singing and who hates the boxing lessons his mom pushes him into. One day, his classmate Ada befriends him and encourages him to perform in the school talent show…but Bart is so shy he can’t perform in front of anyone. This was a really cute read but because it hints at some heavier topics I would suggest it to no one younger than 4th or 5th grade. Possibly 3rd grade. It really just depends on the kid.

Chains: Laurie Halse Anderson seems to be the queen of telling stories that tend to go untold, which is why I love this novel even more. So many times we only consider African Americans when it comes to the Civil War and the 1960s Civil Rights movement. But this novel follows the story of a young slave named Isabel during the American Revolution. Isabel and her sister are first promised freedom in her mistress’s will but is only sold into slavery again when her master passes away. Together, her and her sister are sold to a prominent Loyalist man and woman, and Isabel finds herself in the perfect position to help the Rebels by spying and possibly receiving freedom or by keeping silent but also avoiding likely punishment. Just from a reading level stand point, this novel is great for middle school and up. The content itself is not too graphic either so as long as anyone has the ability to read it, there’s no reason why I would not recommend it.

Brown Girl Dreaming: An autobiography written in verse, this novel is about Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood in the 1960s in Ohio, South Carolina and New York. From Woodson’s early aspirations to be a writer to the disjointed family dynamics she experienced throughout her childhood, this book gives incite into the life of an African American girl who was growing up in the 60s. Again, as far as reading level goes, as long as the child can read and comprehend it, there is no reason why they shouldn’t. However, I think anyone of any age would enjoy this book.

The Vanishing American Adult: Though not an assigned book from this last semester, Nebraska senator Ben Sasse’s book is probably one of my all time favorites that I read last year. It provides great insight into my own generation. I would recommend this to any millennial but also to anyone who still has kids at home or is starting a family. I could not agree more with Sasse’s message of raising more self-reliant children to create a more independent and self-reliant society – one of the true crises America is facing and will continue to face if nothing changes.

What Elephants Know: When Nandu was a baby, he was found by Devi Kali, an elephant from the Nepalese royal stables. Since then he was raised by Devi Kali and her keeper, Subba-sahib. But now the stables face the risk of being shut down and it’s up to Nandu to try to save it. This book is perfect for just about any age. If a child isn’t quite at this reading level, it would still make a cute read-aloud. Plus, it’s a great book to teach kids about Nepal and elephants!

The Absolute True Story of a Part-Time Indian: Funny but edgy this book is not for the young ones, but it provides a young adult perspective of life on a Native reservation in Washington and what it means to break out of the path others choose for you. I would recommend this to older high school kids and up because of mature content. (Am I reading like a video game ad or movie trailer yet???)

Monster: This novel was really interesting to read. Not only is it relevant to the discussion of discrimination in the legal system, but it is also written in the format of a movie script from the first person perspective of Steve, an African American teenage boy in Harlem accused of being a part of a robbery turned murder at a local convenience store. I would recommend this to high school and maybe upper middle school depending on the kid. Adults would enjoy this, too. My only beef with this book is that the format makes it hard to read, but once you get used to that, it’s a fast and informative read.

The First Part Last: Finally, this quick read gives the reader an inside look to the rarely told narrative of a teenage father. The YA market is inundated with books about teenage mom’s but rarely of the paternal perspective. I include this one because of the “before and after” style Angela Johnson uses to tell the story. It’s seamless and incredibly well done. Also, not only is Bobby, the father, the one giving the perspective, but what makes it so great is his involvement in his daughter feather’s life and that how he reacts to the events surrounding her birth. This book wonderfully demonstrates that parenting and the responsibility of a child does not fall to the mother alone.

I hope this list gave you a good place to start for possible reading options! Reading recommendations are some of my favorite things in the world – giving and receiving. Hearing what other’s like to read gives you so much incite into who someone is and it is sure to set any intuitive mind on fire!

I’d love to hear some of your favorite books from 2017 so please share in the comments below or on facebook!

(Originally published to my former site, thetakingflightblog.com, on January 10, 2018.)

Standard
Books

Captivating

captivating

“Every woman has a beauty to unveil.”
John Eldredge from Captivating

Just this past weekend, I went to Barnes and Noble. I had been itching to buy a book for a while and thought now was as good a time as any because what else would a college student about to enter finals season do? Obviously not study.

Originally, I went in looking for a book about coffee–I’m lame, I know–but instead I walked out with Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.

Kathryn, my friend and trustee photographer, had told me about this book some months back so I thought I would check it out. So far I’m two chapters in and all I can say is “Wow!” If I could afford to give every woman on the planet a copy, I would! But sadly I’m a poor college student. (I would probably give every man a copy too if I could because it’s one of the closest things you will ever find to a guide to women.)

As I write this, I keep going back and forth between wanting to write about this book and wanting to read it! I look at my computer screen and then I look back to the book sitting next to me and it’s taking me way longer to write this than it should!

In this book authors John and Stasi are a husband-wife duo who try to capture the psyche of a woman while also encouraging women to embrace who they already are in God in this inspiring book.

Even within the first few chapters, they recognize that it is part of being a woman to want to feel beautiful, be pursued, and have an irreplaceable role in an amazing adventure. What’s even more amazing about this book is not only do they recognize some of the most basic aspects of being a woman, but they recognize that it is okay for women to recognize that about themselves.

Women don’t have to hide behind this impossible-to-achieve feminist image of a strong, independent woman who’s tough as nails and doesn’t need anybody. On the other hand, women don’t have to hide behind the also impossible-to-achieve Proverbs 31 woman and feel like their place is in the kitchen or to be insanely busy to the point of exhaustion 24/7.

The authors recognize that there is a disconnect between the woman, the world and the church. While much of society boasts the image of the feminist woman as the ideal who bares her beauty without any reservations, the church sometimes buries a woman’s beauty and discredits its worth. And by discrediting the beauty of a woman, the church discredits the very essence of God that is within her.

With these two vastly differing views on what a woman should be, it’s easy as a woman to feel like you’re the object of a vicious tug-o-war battle, but it doesn’t have to be that way. John and Stasi Eldredge urge women to…well…be women.

The fact of the matter is women possess a beauty that is to be unveiled, and I can’t wait to read more of Captivating!

Be adventurous in the adventure where you cannot be replaced.

Standard
Books

6 Books You’ll Want to Curl Up With

Winter is quickly approaching whether we like to admit it or not. We can feel it in the chill of the Oklahoma wind and in the crisp bite in the night air. Right before our very eyes we are witnessing the prelude to the colder months.

Winter is certainly not my favorite season, but there is one thing that makes the cold some what bearable and that is my books! There’s nothing more cozy that sitting in front of a blazing fire in the chair that your family or roommates jokingly call YOUR chair all bundled up in the biggest blanket you own with a book in one hand and coffee in the other. Feeling warmer, yet? I am just writing this!

To keep you warmer this winter season, here are a few books you’ll want to curl up with!

Keep a Quiet HeartKeep a Quiet Heart by Elizabeth Elliot

Every time I cracked the spin of this book, I felt like I was having coffee with a much older and wiser friend–you don’t want them to stop talking because they have so many great truths to speak. It’s one of those books that you sit down to read and you just want to hear more of what the author has to say. In this book, Elliot talks being still in a world that is anything but at rest. Keep a Quiet Heart is a great read for your mediation time!

 

Harry PotterHarry Potter

Harry Potter is a classic! It’s a great go-to read and you can really start on any end of the spectrum. Looking for a more lighthearted book? Maybe read the first or second book. Want something a bit more intense? Read one of the later books. And if you haven’t read any of them, then you have a whole series to curl up with!

 

Anne of Green GablesAnne of Green Gables

Another classic! Forget keeping warm with this gem…it’s guaranteed to melt your heart! You’ll fall in love with the mischievous redhead girl, Anne, and you won’t forget her spunk and sassiness.

 

 

An Old-Fashioned ChristmasAn Old-Fashioned Christmas

With Christmas just a few weeks away, I had to throw this one in the mix! An Old-Fashioned Christmas is a collection of holiday romance stories that will bring out the sap in anyone! Some of the stories are beyond adorable and some are cheesier than those Hallmark movies that come on this time of year, but this book is guaranteed to fill you with the warm fuzzies.

 

The HelpThe Help

This one is not only one of my favorite movies but also one of my favorite books! I love Skeeter. She’s kind of my spirit animal. With every chapter, you can’t help but rejoice with the successes of the main characters and feel heartbroken in their trials.

 

 

pride and prejudicePride and Prejudice

Another one that will fill you with the warm fuzzies! I recently reread Pride and Prejudice and was floored by how much of the humor I missed the first time I read this book when I was in high school. Maybe it’s from watching the movie (featuring Kiera Knightley, of course!), but there were times when I couldn’t help but LOL! The humor is just amazing and the love story is even better!

 

These are just a few of my favorites that I like to curl up with once it starts to get cold out. I hope they keep you warm this winter!

Standard
Books

The Joyful Christian by C.S. Lewis

Very rarely has there been a time in my life when I wasn’t reading at least three or four books at a time. When I tell people this, they usually ask how I can keep all of the stories straight, but generally when I’m reading multiple books at a time not all of them are story-based. One or two might be the fictional prose most people think of when they think “books,” but I tend to throw one or two non-fiction books into the mix so I have a variety of things to read to fit the mood I’m in when I want to pick up a book. Now is one of those times when I have a myriad of genres to read from and one of the books I’m reading is The Joyful Christian by C.S. Lewis.

I first started reading The Joyful Christian when I was a senior in high school. I really enjoyed reading this book, but his writing is very dense. So I think I read about half way through the book and then put it aside until recently.

Despite his writing being difficult to understand at times, Lewis is still one of my favorite religious authors simply because he is bold, is not afraid to speak his mind and he brings so many valuable ideas to the table! For anyone who reads any of his work, Lewis gives the reader a lot of “food for thought” moments that add up to be more of a feast. The Joyful Christian is no exception.

Even though The Joyful Christian packs much the same punch as say Mere Christianity or The Screwtape Letters, this book allows the reader to eat the elephant–or feast–one bite at a time. This book consists of 127 short readings that can be just a few sentences to a few pages on various aspects of the Christian life. I like to think of The Joyful Christian as C.S. Lewis’s “blog” (if blogs had existed in the mid-1900s) because he writes each reading with a very succinct style and each with insightful thoughts on Christianity.

“Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” – C.S. Lewis

This is one of those books that I love to pick up to supplement my personal study, when I take my morning coffee or when I’m unwinding at the end of the day. This is really one of those books that fits in nicely at any time of day and into any season of life. By no means do I agree with everything C.S. Lewis writes, but he makes some very wise and valid points worth considering.

Standard
Books

Being an Introvert in an Extroverted Society

  
For the longest time I thought I was just socially awkward. Going up and talking to people randomly wasn’t my thing and when I would try to break out of my comfort zone I never knew what to say to people. Small talk seemed really shallow to me and my ability to facilitate a conversation revolving around small talk for an extended period of time is very limited.

On the first Sunday of this new semester, I was sitting in Bible class next to my friend Alex. For a few minutes I was good. I saw people who I knew well or had seen a few times before Bible class, but then the droves of new people started to come in and all of sudden I became tense. My heart instantly started to pound out of my chest.

So I told Alex, “So, I’m an introvert and all these people are kind of freaking me out.”

And what did she say in response…”Did you just call yourself and introvert?”

And to that I said, “Yes, it’s how I explain me to other people.”

I knew I needed to talk to at least some of these people, and don’t get me wrong! I was glad there were so many new students, but there were just so many of them! So, I channeled my pseudo-extrovert and got to meeting and greeting.

With experience and watching how people (a.k.a. extroverts) interact with others, my pseudo-extroverted self has gotten a lot more polished, but for the longest time I would often asked myself how does one “people” and am I the only one who struggles with “peopling”?

How does one people?

Am I the only one who struggles with “peopling”?

It’s not that I hate people. I actually like people and generally, I have a positive perception of most people I meet for the first time. But when I find myself in a new environment or new people and things start to infiltrate the environment I’m used to my anxiety levels spike instantly.

Right now, you might be thinking, “this girl has some serious mental issues” or “something is wrong with her” and I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking that because I used to think that about myself all the time. But then I started to pick up on the fact that maybe there wasn’t anything wrong with me when I started taking psychology in high school and when I took a personality psychology class last Fall.

And then I read the second greatest book in the world (right behind the Bible) and discovered that I wasn’t mentally ill or an anomaly in society. I found out what I think I had known about myself for a while I just never had a label for it.

The truth is I’m an introvert and Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, helped me realize that there’s nothing wrong with that. 

Cain makes so many great points in this book such as “The Extrovert Ideal” that exists in America and how the corporate and educational worlds are designed specifically to meet the needs and communication styles of extroverts. She also talks about how this “Extrovert Ideal” often hurts the success of students and professionals regardless of their personality type and in turn effects all industries throughout the country. She also provides practical advice on how extroverts can better understand and interact with more cerebral people, but also how introverts can push their own boundaries and take advantage of their strengths and weaknesses in the best ways. And she does all of this without knocking the value that extroverts add to our society.

In her thoroughly researched book, Cain bundles some of the greatest personality psychology discoveries made on the dichotomous personality types all into one perfect package.

So, if you haven’t guessed it, then I would recommend everyone read this book because all introverts would like to know they aren’t alone and all extroverts would benefit from understanding a little bit about the introverts in there lives. 

Standard