The Problem of Reading

I have a problem. In fact, my husband and I BOTH have a problem. 

The problem is this: our reading lists have grown so long that I don’t know if we will ever catch up. I have, in fact, proposed early retirement in order to devote more intentional time to reading- since there is no end to our list. The annoying thing about reading is that there’s always a new book, and there’s always a new author, so our lists are constantly growing. [When we got married, my husband actually was actually giddy when he learned about a Crutchfield Family Christmas tradition: books on Christmas Eve. The origin story of that tradition will have to be for another time!] My sweet husband has reminded me that if I wished to retire and devote my days to reading, I should have married someone in the medical, law, or financial vocations. But that’s not what I did. I married a man pursing God’s calling on his life (a 2nd masters and the mission field) and 30k deep in debt. [To be clear– I made the right choice.]

Since it seems to be me vs. the hourglass, I am a chronic over-estimator of how fast I will read. I have an annoying habit of checking out multiple Kindle books from my local library, and then I am forced to keep my Kidle on airplane mode for months as I fail to even begin a new book, because I am crippled by the fear that it won’t be as enjoyable as the last book I read. You don’t have to tell how ridiculous that is, believe me, I know. 

My mother is a oxymoron to me; I am truly befuddled by a simple fact of her personality. She is both a do-er (I don’t know if she has ever sat through a movie without multitasking and working on a project), and reads more books than anyone else I know. I consider myself a do-er… but as soon as I sit down with a book, I am shocked and awed by how filthy my house is. How can I possibly engage in a relaxing activity, such as reading, when there is a tissue on the floor RIGHT NEXT TO THE GARBAGE CAN, but not actually IN the garbage can, because my husband and I have a perpetual game of basketball going on in our living room, but we are both miserable players when said “ball” is actually a loosely crumpled tissue?!?!?!

The thing is this: I have convinced myself that reading is being lazy. (Please, dad, don’t disown me.) I have allowed myself to choose less stimulating entertainment (lookin’ at you, Netflix) and convinced myself that reading can be “too much work” or isn’t “time effecient” because I can’t read AND do something else. I’ve relied on Podcasts and Netflix for too long! [I picture this to be a inspiring speech, but since it’s just all 5′ 1 3/5″ (ever bit counts) of me standing up from my desk in our study….it’s… just… not.] 

In all seriousness, I decided I had a problem with reading when I realized that my habit of not reading was impacting my spiritual life. Here’s an obvious thing: God did not make a podcast. He did not make an original Hulu series (though if you’re looking for one, The Mindy Project is my choice). He gave us His Word, comprised of 66 books. Since I’m pointing out the obvious, I shall continue by saying BEING IN GOD’S WORD REQUIRES READING. As I pondered this (truth ad conviction) and the strong shift in my entertainment, I decided that I needed to make some radical shifts. I think most cleanses are utter poppycock (guys isn’t that what our kidneys and liver are for?), but I do think “boot camps” can be helpful. Thus, my Bible Bootcamp was born. My mission (sorry, Josh finally got me to watch Star Trek and now Jean-Luc Picard narrates my life): to read through the entire Bible in 6-8 weeks. Why 6-8 weeks? Because that’s how long of a break I have from work. I now have the BEST job in the world, and I am a nanny! I watch 2 boys (5 and 2 years old), and a sweet little girl is about to join the family! So while momma is on maternity leave, I some free time- and I want to be intentional with it. 

I’m not following a reading plan, I am making it up as I go along. As I write this, I haven’t actually told anyone about this plan, because I’m afraid I’ll fail. I’ve been spending a lot of time considering what failure would mean in this scenario, and I don’t think failing to finish the reading by the time I go back to work would be “failure.” While I was in college, we had a frequent guest speaker, and every time he spoke, he said “We don’t read the Bible to finish, we read the Bible to change.”

My mom always asks “What’s the goal?” So here it is: the goal is to put myself through a Bible Bootcamp for the purpose of change. I want to change my mentality not only about reading, but about reading God’s Word. I want to be marked as a woman that treasures God’s Word, and frankly my life is not reflecting that I AM that woman right now.

Hopefully I’ll have a follow up post with details about how it went, and ways I’ve changed… even if I don’t “finish.”

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What I’m Reading in 2016: When God Doesn’t Fix It

As I have shared in a previous post, my goals this year are mostly focused on taking care of myself so that I can take care of others. The most radical change has been creating a purposeful time of prayer and reading each morning. (It doesn’t necessarily happen first thing in the morning on the weekends, but otherwise I am diligently doing it first thing before work.)
My morning devotional routine involves 3 things:

  1. Prayer
  2. Scripture Reading
  3. Devotional Reading

I record who/what I’m praying for, read a chapter of scripture (going through Genesis right now), and read a chapter of a book I have selected for enrichment purposes. Real talk: if I try to start with reading the Bible, I won’t absorb nearly as much as if I make reading the Bible my second reading… which usually happens halfway through my coffee. This has been working for me!

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This month, I am reading When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story. I don’t even know how to express how much I have loved this book. Laura and I graduated from the same college, and I applaud her handling of scripture. She unpacks hard Biblical truths with integrity and clarity. She speaks from experience, and doesn’t always put herself in a good light. This book is incredibly encouraging, because she reminds the reader about things that are fundamentally true of our God. He is good, he has a plan, and all things are meant to be for His glory.
Maybe you’re not going through a trial right now, so you feel like the content doesn’t apply to you. Here’s what I know: you have either gone through a trial, or you will in the future. Since trials are inevitable, I think it is important to have resources at your disposal to encourage you and remind you of the truths that are hard to speak to yourself. I strongly recommend this book; it’s packed full of good theology, feelings and thoughts I have related to, and pierces through the lies we believe about (and in the midst of) trials. Laura’s vulnerability is beautiful, as she shares the way God molded her heart and mind and used a tragic situation to grow her. I haven’t quite finished the book, but I have read the majority- enough to say GO BUY IT.

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Blogging News & Book Reviews

In case you missed it on Facebook, or haven’t seen the button on the bottom of the page, I just joined a group of bloggers (Triangle Area Bloggers)! I’m now listed in the directory, and pretty super stoked about it. I was processing some things with Josh, like the fact that I was looking into getting my own blog domain. Suddenly, I felt so… lame. A million thoughts flew through my mind… am I trying too hard? I barely have any readers, why would I actually invest money in this? Is this even worth while? These are my thoughts… no, I’m not trying too hard. I don’t feel this way about my crafting, my sewing, my baking, or my cooking. I’m not “trying too hard.” I’m expressing myself, enjoying it, and the blog was for me in the first place! I’m excited to share it all, but I need to remind myself that this blog was for me to enjoy.

I used to think that if I knew something I didn’t have to keep repeating it… like… the Gospel. However, something that I absolutely L-O-V-E about my church is that they repeat it all the time. The Gospel is the reason that we live. I think that’s a good thing to repeat and recount. Maybe it has gotten old to you readers (PS I don’t care- see paragraph above 🙂 ), but I have been rehearsing daily truths, and have greatly benefited from it. (See examples, below.)

I must admit things, because this is a place where I do that. All those wonderful ideas I had painted for Monday night… they just did not happen. We didn’t have enough alfredo for the three of us (I really should have opened that deceptively full container and looked before I made plans), so one of us had alfredo, one of us had sandwiches, and one of us had a quesadilla. I didn’t feel good, sooooo I basically went from watching American Idol on the couch, to watching Grey’s Anatomy in bed. The laundry remained in a pile.

A funny thing happened the other morning. I have a few pairs of pants hanging in the closet, two of which I can currently wear, and two of which I really can’t. Well, on a day I was particularly sleepy and bloaty (go with it, it can be a word) I pulled the wrong size of pants out of the closet…. but I thought I pulled the ones that fit. I WAS SO VERY CONFUSED. Not upset, not distraught, but confused. I figured it out, laughed at myself, and went on with my day. Later, I shared the story with Josh and I could tell, from his response, that he thought I was really beating up on myself. I assured him that I wasn’t. I have gotten such a confidence boost from just eating better, drinking more water, and meeting my step goals. I told him I want to be the healthiest, best version of me… not the skinniest. I have learned, over the past year plus of marriage, that I am really good at taking care of other people… but I am really bad at taking care of myself. I don’t say nice things to myself, I don’t put on nice clothes for fun, I don’t treat my body like it’s worth taking care of. So, that is all stopping. Instead of saying, “I’m not sure I can pull off the chambray today…” I said “you know what? THIS is what I want to wear… and I may think it looks better on so-and-so, but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel good wearing it.”

There are two things I have really been enjoying lately: one is a book and one is a game. The game is Carcassonne. You may recall that I downloaded it for free last week on Kindle! I LOVE IT. It is just so fun to play the game whenever I want, and wherever I want!

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Now, I am a self-proclaimed book-worm…. but if I’m honest, it’s been a long time since I have actually finished a book -the last book I read was “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling and it was hilarious…. I highly recommend it! I don’t think that will be the case for long… I have been lost in the book “One Last Thing” by Rebecca St. James and Nancy Rue. It is a tough subject, but a really good read. If you don’t know, I have been a huge fan of Rebecca St. James… since forever. I know every song, my walls were covered in RSJ posters, and I thought I was going to pass out from excitement when I got to meet her (twice). I have so much respect for her, and I still love her music… and now I’m enjoying all things RSJ on a new level: fiction. The book is set in the South, and the main character is around my age, and finds out a few weeks before her wedding (in December) that her fiance is addicted to pornography. All those details make it so easy for me to put myself in the main character’s shoes… and it is absolutely heartbreaking. Knowing Rebecca, this is going to be such an awesome story of God’s healing. She has been a huge advocate for purity (bash her songs all you want, but she’s my hero)… and this book advocates for it in a whole new way. This isn’t Rebecca’s first fiction novel, but it’s the first I’ve read… her others are on my “to read” list. What are you reading? Any suggestions?? We have a loooong road trip coming up in May, so I’m trying to gather some new options!

Tonight is date night, and we haven’t decided where we’re going. We will either use a giftcard, or we’ll go to Panera. (As you gathered, I am the indecisive one here.) Our March budget was a little tight, which is fine- we have a lofty goal for paying off some student loans. This morning I’m pretty set on Panera…. so we shall see! Otherwise, we’re hitting Target to do that return and watching some Parks and Rec. We have another date on Saturday, and that one will be a little more adventurous!

 

Dear Josh,

Thank you for supporting my blogging hobby. It’s been so fun to be excited about it with you, and to have you proof the posts. I know you’re biased, but it is so encouraging that you think I’m a good writer and that you enjoy my posts. I have loved reading this book, as you know, and I have been filled with thankfulness that you have striven for purity. I am so proud of the man you are, and so thankful our future children will have you as their example.

I’m excited about our date tonight (and glad that I’m not zoned out on allergy medicine this week)! Can’t wait to eat some yummy food, have some good conversations, and snuggle up for some Parks and Rec.
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