I absolutely adore this book by Katherine Center! I love how it maintains a fun, lighthearted feel but also carries some weight. Though heartbreaking to read about a girl exactly my age hopeful to start her dreams of beginning her career after graduate school and getting engaged to her longterm boyfriend experience such a tragedy, it provides a lot of hope. Margaret demonstrates true strength as she heals not only physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. She reworks her goals and makes even better ones. Maybe she appreciates them more knowing what she had lost and what she had to do to get to the new places. The hospital setting gave a constant for most the story, and it all flowed so well. It kept me glued to the book in eager delight.
I read Kasie West’s recent Love, Life, and the List with my best friend and book buddy. The book and the buddy reading served as a good reminder of creating and pursuing goals. Abby generated a list of experiences that would help her gain heart to put into her heart, and she pushed herself to fulfill those and learned about life and love in the process. In turn, I received a gentle nudge to keep growing and satisfying my own goals.
Abby was in high school and therefore at least ten years younger than me, but I found her experiences relatable. Learning how to share problems with your family and understanding they have difficulties too applied to anyone. The concept of participating in new experiences to gain understanding, depth and knowledge applied to any relational or professional goals as well. Most importantly, pursuing goals and having a team of supporters fit as an overarching message.
The story had a fun, lighthearted flow. Abby navigated school, family, friends, a developing hobby and love. The situations provided a balance of a little thought with a lot of fun. I enjoyed the ride and rooted for Abby to reach her goals and to connect closer with her friends and family.
I received an ARC of By the Book by Julia Sonneborn from BookishFirst in exchange for a review.
This book holds appeal for its college setting as well as its Jane Austen inspiration. However, it does not hold the same depth as you would wish a university experience or Austen reading to have. It does provide some light hearted fun though.
Overall, I enjoy Anne Corey as a character. I admire her devotion and her ambition to her career and to those in her inner circle. She has pushed herself through school to teach on a university campus, a long term and highly involved endeavor. Her background encourages me to push forward in my education as well, though the reminder of her school loans looming over her intimidated me. Anne also has the relatability of someone who yearns for love yet doesn’t quite know how to find it or maintain it. The love triangle makes her look like her intelligence isn’t balanced in terms of life and books.
The book flows quickly and serves as a light, fun read. Its surface stays shiny, but it doesn’t go much deeper than that.
This weekend marks the middle of prime wedding season. All sorts of friends, families and acquaintances will gather and mingle to honor love. As greetings and vows get exchanged, expectations of all involved parties mount. Everyone wants the fairy tale love, or they at least want to witness it. If you don’t have a wedding to attend this week, you can soak in the weirdness of love throughout history by dappling in stories and characters from Arabian Nights, Shrek 2 and Enchanted.
Arabian Nights has an overarching story of a newlywed bride telling a series of intertwined vignettes to her king husband to ensure she survives another day since the wives before her lasted one day before he executed them due to his mistrust of women. Her tales involve travelers, jinn and other creatures and men of various occupancies. Throughout them all, the characters expect something from the others and retaliate when disappointed. Read some or all to see how the queen keeps herself and the other women in the kingdom alive through story.
When you need a break from the long Arabian Nights, you can enjoy a lighter side of ancient fairy tale creatures by watching Shrek 2. The second installment of the series picks up after Shrek and Princess Fiona’s honeymoon and follows them to Far Far Away, where meet Fiona’s king and queen parents. Their expectations of what they dreamed for their daughter clash with reality, and they all struggle to accept the new family dynamics. Though an animated family movie, it reminds those joining families this wedding season of the true difficulty, and oftentimes tension, of interacting with in-laws and extended family. Of course in this story we get the added comedy brought from classic characters from Brothers Grimm fairy tales.
To add to the fairy tale dream, watch Enchanted as your next movie feature. This live action film follows a storybook princess as she finds herself in New York City. Clearly, her expectations of love vary a bit from most of the people she meets in NYC, including the man who helps her survive the big city. The fairy tale world and real world clash to show the contrast and balance between dreams, expectations, hope, reality. Since it’s a Disney film and pays homage to its classic predecessors, you can rest assured they all find happy endings.
As we continue through prime wedding season, we can renew our hope in fairy tale love and also balance it out with reality. Summer time works great for a light story, and we all enjoy a happy ending sometimes. When we want to give ourselves a reality check we can revisit the roots of these fairy tale stories and be thankful the tensions with in-laws in our world typically don’t result in people getting changed into animals or run ins with jinn. Here’s to a weekend of real life happily ever afters.
Ten years ago, I graduated high school. While I may not have a reunion to attend, I can spend a weekend basking in world of young adults. The movies She’s the Man and Hairspray as well as Sarah Dessen’s book The Truth About Forever came out during my high school years. The characters in these stories grapple with the cost of pursuing their dreams and the tensions that arise within themselves and from those around them as they take aim. Spend the weekend in the high school realm with Amanda Bynes on your screen and young ladies of various backgrounds reminding you to hold onto your dreams.
In She’s the Man Amanda Bynes’ character Viola follows the plotline of the Shakespeare comedy Twelfth Night as she poses as her brother so she can play soccer. Laughs follow as she attempts the mannerisms of an adolescent boy and hones in skills. Though her mother wishes Viola to shine as a debutant, Viola proves she can wear a dress as well as a soccer jersey.
Hairspray, which stars Amanda Bynes in the best friend role, demonstrates not only the tensions that arise from pursuing a dream but also racial tensions as Tracy Turnblad auditions for a dance show and supports integration. Singing and dancing abound as people start to notice the talent surrounding them. In the face of rejection for her weight and her views, Tracy holds onto her desire to dance and to develop her friendships.
Sarah Dessen’s novel The Truth about Forever deals with loss and the discovery of new and old dreams as Macy recovers from her father’s death. She and her mother don’t discuss their situation, and at a new summer job Macy makes new friends who help her sort through her pain. Though her mom resists the friends at first, Macy evaluates her life and how she wants to progress. Rather than box herself in with rules, she starts to consider goals again as she opens up with herself, her mom and her friends.
As young adults, high schools start to really take hold of their dreams. Even as an adult ten years out of high school, I struggle to keep those dreams close and pursue them despite tension that may arise within myself or from those around me. As these characters show, our goals have a purpose that can benefit not only ourselves but those around us. We can join forces with friends and family to progress them and see positive results.
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I just have finished reading a chapter in Max Lucado’s book The Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot about joining God’s family of friends through church community. He emphasizes the importance of each member having a specific role to play, using his gifts, and how we come together as one body to support each other.
The church as a hospital for hurt people is a common image used for Christians. This chapter demonstrates how the community helps its members by providing physical and emotional needs during difficult times. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m taking a course on healing from past wounds at a nearby church. We have spent the last couple weeks sharing our backgrounds and starting a healing process that begins with forgiving people who have hurt us and relinquishing lies, etc. I have immediately seen a significant difference in how I feel since I’ve had my turn in the “holy seat” on Monday evening. Maybe the true beginning really is as simple as acknowledging that certain people have hurt me and forgiving them as well as acknowledging and renouncing lies or curses I have believed as a result of those situations. Nothing has changed the past, but I have started to loosen its negative grip on me as I live in a healthier present.
Feeling better has made me feel more equipped to start tackling some of my goals again, big and small. I have shared this readiness and some of the dreams on my heart with my group, and I have received enthusiasm and encouragement. Immediately, one friend wanted to introduce me to a writer at the church who currently seeks young authors. Then the group as a whole is happy to see me healing and reaching out to fulfill God’s calling for me.
That’s exactly what the church family of friends does for each other. These wonderful women have stood beside me as I have started healing and as I shared my scars. I never once felt judged, rather felt lifted up and seen in a positive light for who I am rather than things I have done or that have been done to me. They are helping me get plugged into the church, eager to see me use my gifts. Each week, I am reminded that there is no such thing as coincidence and that God placed me in this group for a purpose.
As Max Lucado points out, the church is a family of friends. It can come together to serve each other through sharing burdens as well as connecting people for community and getting people plugged into the right place to use their gifts. I am not a member of a church in my area yet, but I am encouraged to keep getting involved to receive further healing from the church as a hospital as well as use my gifts to lift people higher and bring them closer together in fellowship.
A pale moon still glows
Daylight bringing new
Dreams from sleep possible
I awoke closer to you
Thoughts bridging gaps
Night and day become one
Shadows cast on me
Only emphasize what’s left
Those few green branches
What otherwise seems bare
Simply waits to grow
Needles, flowers, leaves emerge
Reaching out, reaching up
I connect tree to tree
One forest of growth
This smile’s no mask
when I can’t possibly hide
you’ve changed my dark tide
You see beyond me
a beauty brightly deeper
what I feared steeper
you’ve welcomed me home again
so I say Amen
Rosy cheeks flushing
after sharp witted comebacks
I see what I lack
Finding myself near
what I lost, I feared, I dreamed
Love’s more than I deemed