Bookish Radness

It’s THE NIGHT CIRCUS Party 🖤

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it…It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”⁣

This past weekend, I decided to go all out for book club this month with The Night Circus. Mainly because I love this book 🖤. I first read it in 2013, but I had forgotten so much it was like reading it for the first time 😆. It’s just so magical! ⁣Anyway, thought I’d share some photos in case you’re looking for some book club party (or just book party!) inspiration!

Also, if you’re a fan of magic, fantasy, and love a love story, then be sure to check this one out.

Have you ever hosted a book theme party? What was the theme? I’d love to hear!

Bookish Radness

Why read? Here Are 7 Reasons

Let’s all pretend to be shocked that I would choose to write an article on reasons to read, but what can I say? I love to read and I love to talk about why I love to read and books, but I promise this article will be more than just an excuse for me to talk about why reading is the absolute best. So here we go! Seven reasons to keep on reading!

1. Your brain will love and appreciate you a lot more.
Not only does reading help with memory and critical thinking skills, according to Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, it can also slow the rate of decline and has been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. According to PBS’s Great American Read, those who read regularly are 2.5x less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

I love a good binge watch, but TV does not do this for your brain (also reading burns more calories than watching TV #extrabonus).

2. Knowledge is power.
This might be the most cliché reason to add to this list, but I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t true. As we read more, not only are we learning more on whatever the topic of the book is, we are improving things like our vocabulary and critical thinking skills.

3. Reading reduces stress.
Some might say stress is one of America’s favorite pastimes. Well, reading only a few minutes a day can reduce stress up to 68%. Reading angry Twitter rants does not count. I have no science *yet* to back that up, but pretty sure Twitter triples stress levels.

4. Empathy.
This is one thing the world needs so much more of. Whether it’s taking time to read about the experiences of immigrants are like or the memoirs of someone who has lived a completely different life from you, developing empathy makes us better humans. What so easily divides us is when we forget each other’s humanity.

5. Let us all escape for a quick minute.
Well, if 2020 didn’t prove that we need a place to escape for a few…

6. There is nothing quite like laughter.
A well written book that has humor throughout is always an absolute favorite. When I have to stop reading for a few minutes because I’m laughing so hard, I’m positive I just added a day to my life. (Some books that I have legit laughed out loud? Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Melanie Shankle’s books, and Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren)

7. Book discussions are one of my favorite reasons.
I’m in three different book clubs and I love it. You need people in your life where you can text any of the following (with, of course, matching gifs) and there will be instant understanding:

  • I read the first chapter and I cannot go on.
  • I think I just fell in love with [Enter name of fictional character]
  • Why did my life have to include reading this TRASH?
  • I think I just cried my eyes out.

Another reason I love book discussions? When people have disagreed on a book, those turned into some of my favorite discussions.

What are some of your favorite reasons to read?

(Sources here and here)

Ink & Willow

I Helped Write a Book! MY PRAYER JOURNEY and Why You Need This

Love and Faith

Look What Was Hiding Out in Deuteronomy

After my Easter devotional readings this year, I started one of the many plans that get you through the Bible in a year. Through mid-August to mid-September, I made my way through Deuteronomy. Mixed throughout the plan were some Psalms, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who isn’t super thrilled about reading through this gem of a book (much like Leviticus and Numbers).

When I noticed that I only had two days left of reading in Deuteronomy I was excited and even prayed “Lord, just help me make it through these last few chapters without completely losing focus.”

Sure enough my reading turned out more than what I expected. As I read Deuteronomy 29:5-6 (which was Moses’ Third Address), Moses is calling the Israelites to commit to the Lord and shared with them these words of the Lord: “During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, not did the sandals on your feet…I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.”

I’ve been a Christian for over two decades and this is the first time I ever thought about their clothes as they wandered through the desert. Am I the only one? But what I love about this passage is that it shows something so profound:

The Lord took care of every single detail. They never had to worry about any of their needs.

What a reminder! God takes care of my daily needs. How prone am I to forget. How easily I don’t notice or take for granted the ways God takes care of my daily needs.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26 (NIV)

I was also reminded that God’s Word is living. It’s true. It draws us closer to Him, whatever book of the Bible we are reading.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

Even though reading the Old Testament can be such a struggle in understanding, frustration, and wrestling (and honestly, not just completely skimming over some of the books), God can handle that. He will still always be there to help understand and bring peace.

And in that there’s hope.

Book Wisdom, Inklings

Once a King or Queen in Narnia, Always a King or Queen

At the end of C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, after all the adventures, battles, brave acts, and sacrifice, Aslan leaves the four siblings with this exhortation:

“Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen. Bear it well, Sons of Adam! Bear it well, Daughters of Eve!” said Aslan.

The calling Aslan has given the siblings doesn’t change when they leave Narnia (although at the time, they don’t realize they will), just like our calling as Christians doesn’t change with our life circumstances.

Kind of a relief right? What a gift this truth is. For those of us who have surrendered our lives to Christ, our whole identity changes. We are no longer lost, searching for purpose. We have encountered peace, hope, joy, and most important, Love.

The Pevensie children each had titles bestowed to them, along with their King and Queen status. Peter the Magnificent, Susan the Gentle, Edmund the Just, and Lucy the Valiant. While we may not go around using such titles, what if we started living by their truth more?

What does it mean to be The Magnificent?
Philippians 2:1-4 reads, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV)

Humility. I think that’s one of the biggest parts of being magnificent. It’s not about who only cared for themselves, it’s about caring deeply for others. When we take a quick glance at historical kings and queens, the ones who inspire us the most? They are the ones who did the most for their people. But the moving stories don’t stop with kings and queens of old, but the people who lead by example and who show us a life well lived, one full of generosity and caring for others more than themselves.

And what of our gifts? 1 Peter 4:10 draws us again to that of a servant: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (NIV)

What does it mean to live a life as one who can be called The Gentle?
How do we live up to such a calling and one of gentleness? It would be easy to pass it off as being a “pushover,” but that’s not it. It always comes back to love. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians brings to the forefront what that means: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV)

What does it mean to be The Just?
I can speak on justice, and our calling to lead this charge as Christians, for hours, but I’ll start with this quote from Timothy Keller in Generous Justice. I highly recommend the book and I love one of his early quotes: “God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to “do justice.”

Isaiah 1:17: “Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.” (NIV)

Proverbs 31:8-9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (NIV)

Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)

What does it mean to be The Valiant?
And finally we come to courage. There is so much pain, so much hurt, and the world needs the Church. May we find the courage to keep on fighting for what’s right, even when the hits keep coming. And the good news? We don’t have to do this on our own. We can trust in the promise that Christ is with us and on the side of Truth.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14 (ESV)

What a holy calling we have! The world needs it now more than ever before. And if 2020 has taught us anything (I mean it has, I have a whole list), it has reminded us that life is so very short. Don’t waste these titles, don’t waste this calling.

This life isn’t meant to be boring, no matter what path your life follows, for we are Kings and Queens. When we follow Christ, when we live to make His Name famous, it’s a wild ride.

“He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

Bookish Radness

Entrusted Woman University is Open!

I’ve been a part of Entrusted Women for a while now and this group is such a blessing. Entrusted Women exists to increase and create opportunities for Christian women communicators of color through ongoing training, supportive community, exposure and access to resources and information.

Do you have a desire to speak and write? Are you looking for a way to make your desire more than a dream or a hobby? Now more than ever we are reminded of how short life is.

For this reason, there is no time like the present to pursue our dreams of writing and speaking.

This is why I am excited to tell you about Entrusted Women University. Entrusted Women University is a membership designed to give you the strategies, tools, and support you need to make your writing and speaking business a reality!

The membership includes:
• 6 Modules for Writers and Speakers
• 6 Guided Worksheets and Checklists for Each Module
• Access to the Entrusted Women Interview Library
• Access to the Entrusted Women Training Archive
• Access to the Entrusted Women 2020 Online Conference Replays
• Live Expert Interviews
• Accountability Groups
• Amazing Bonus Content

This is over 70 lessons, interviews, and workshops all under one roof. You can go at your own pace, track your progress, have access to Live experts, and get some accountability along the way. The time is now for you to finally pursue what God has placed on the inside of you.

The membership doors will be closing on Monday, August 10, 2020, at 11:59 PM EST so don’t delay!

To register go to here to learn more and sign up today.

In full disclosure, if you purchase Entrusted Women University through my link I’ll receive a commission, but please know I would never share this offering with you if I didn’t think it would be worth your while. Don’t just take my word for it, go ahead and check it out! You won’t regret it!

Travel Adventures

“Climb the Mountains and Get Their Good Tidings”

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
Our National Parks by John Muir (1901, page 56)

John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist and an early advocate for preservation of America’s vast wilderness, including Yosemite Valley and the Sequoia National Park. While he helped establish several National Parks, he is also known for co-founding the Sierra Club. As Gretel Ehrlich wrote in her book, John Muir: Nature’s Visionary, his “eloquent words changed the way Americans saw their mountains, forests, seashores, and deserts.”

Living in Colorado has given me new appreciation to Muir’s passion and life’s work. These past few days I took a trip out west to explore some of Colorado I haven’t visited yet, including the Black Canyon National Park of the Gunnison, Telluride, and Ouray. As someone who loves words, words don’t quite feel adequate to describe all you see. Such breathtaking beauty.

I know I would have appreciated this trip anytime, but it was especially refreshing after all that has happened this year. To get away, to be in the mountains, to feel my soul revived…

The first stop was Black Canyon National Park of the Gunnison. Thankfully there were many viewpoints still open, so we were able to see quite a bit. While none of the viewpoints are hard to get to, on a sunny day you do feel it, so if you are going during warmer months, be sure to bring plenty of water with you.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.
The Yosemite by John Muir (1912 page 256).

Day Two was a day trip to Telluride. This is quite possibly one of the most beautiful places in America. You can be anywhere in the town and still have absolutely gorgeous views. We did the hike up to the base of Bridal Veil Falls. It was a harder hike, but absolutely worth it. If you hike up (you can also drive up), you have beautifully inspiring stops along the way, including more waterfalls and vistas. And the smells! If peaceful could be a smell, walking through these mountains would be it. I have yet to find the perfect mountain-ish candle, but if I ever do, I will buy them all.

“God never made an ugly landscape. All that the sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.” – John Muir

Our final day was in Ouray, a town I hadn’t heard of before this trip. Not quite as big as Telluride (it isn’t a ski town), it is absolutely still worth seeing. There’s plenty of places to hike and camp. We did part of the Perimeter Trail and Baby Bath Tubs Trail. The Ouray Perimeter Trail is about 6.5 miles long and when I go back, I’ll definitely do the whole thing. Baby Bath Tubs Trail is super short and easy (so you can take kids!) and has refreshing (so cold!) water to dip your feet in or more.

Ouray is also the start of The Million Dollar Highway. We drove up a few miles in and the views are absolutely stunning. I don’t like heights at all, so I’m not going to lie, I gripped that steering wheel tight, but glad I was able to see some more views.

And of course, book stores! I visited Between the Covers Bookstore in Telluride and Ouray Bookshop in Ouray (which is officially one of my favorite book stores).

Oh and we stayed in Montrose. It’s quite a bit cheaper and a nice drive to all the places. Have you been to any of these places? Would love to hear about your adventures!

book club

Kicking Off An Online Book Club!

So I’m officially gonna do it! I’m starting a bi-monthly online book club – starting with some of the books I’ve been sharing about recently. I’d love for you to join! I created a Facebook group, but will also keep the blog updated as well.

It will be simple, promise! We’ll read a book every other month and then come together online to discuss. The first discussion will be in late August, discussing Just Mercy. For as much as I talk about this book 🙂, it only seems right that it be the book to kick off this book club!

I’m really excited and am looking forward to these discussions. If you think others would be interested, please feel free to invite them!

Join the FB Group Here