Inklings

A Toast to the Professor | Celebrating with Favorite LOTR Moments

Today is Tolkien’s 126th Birthday! Every year on January 3rd, we fans raise a toast! (According to The Tolkien Society, it’s at 9:00 p.m. your local time.) Here’s the official way from their website :):

All you need to do is stand, raise a glass of your choice of drink (not necessarily alcoholic), and say the words “The Professor” before taking a sip (or swig, if that’s more appropriate for your drink). Sit and enjoy the rest of your drink.

Current office decor

So tonight I’ll raise a glass, but thought it would be fun to share a few favorite quotes from the book and scenes from the LOTR movies!

1. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” The Fellowship of the Ring

2. “Courage is found in unlikely places…be of good hope!” (Gildor to Frodo in The Fellowship of The Ring)

3. “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”

4. Samwise being Samwise

5. “Where there’s life there’s hope.” Sam’s Gaffer (The Two Towers)

6. “But that’s not the way of it with tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in mind. Folks seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.” Samwise Gamgee

7. Éowyn being awesome:

8. “He (Faramir) looked at her, and being a man whom pity deeply stirred, it seemed to him that her (Éowyn) loveliness amid her grief would pierce his heart. And she looked at him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark would outmatch in battle.” I love this because it shows the romantic Tolkien was (Return of the King)

9. “For Frodo.” Gets me every time.

I couldn’t resist, I had to sneak one in from The Hobbit:
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” (Thorin to Bilbo as he was dying)

What are some of your favorite scenes?

Advertisements
Love and Faith

There Are Better Things Ahead

This year has been a year. In both incredible ways and also really hard and ugly ways. From personal events and happenings, to things in friend’s lives (from exciting engagements and babies to cancer diagnoses), to global events (from racism, to horrific mass shootings, to heart wrenching natural disasters to people coming together in beautiful ways), 2017 has been a year. A heavy year that I’m most definitely ready to say farewell to.

But here’s the thing: I’m thankful that each has taught me that it doesn’t end here. This is not it. It’s because of this truth, I have hope. Psalm 71:14 reads, “As for me, I will always have hope.” I don’t know what I would do without that promise. Without the Words that bring hope and are true.

“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

I have this hanging on a wall in my house – a gift from a friend and the quote is from none other than C.S. Lewis.

The quote comes from a letter Lewis wrote. A few months back it was posted by an author friend, Tamera Alexander, as she and her family worked through her Dad’s failing health. Here’s the full letter:

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On how to rehearse for death and how to diminish fear.
17 June 1963
Pain is terrible, but surely you need not have fear as well? Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer? It means stripping off that body which is tormenting you: like taking off a hairshirt or getting out of a dungeon. What is there to be afraid of? You have long attempted (and none of us does more) a Christian life. Your sins are confessed and absolved. Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’

Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.
Yours (and like you a tired traveller near the journey’s end) Jack
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

That’s the hope that keeps me going. That no matter how horrific evil rears its head, there’s hope. This may not be the end for many of us, so I plan on making this a really great rehearsal. Christ isn’t finished yet – with me or the Church.

I will continue to fight and speak out against injustices and work towards making our nation the ideal it has long promised (and the world too). Action is an important piece to our Christian life. Whether that’s helping my neighbor or working towards change in our government. My Christianity isn’t tied to a party or one cause. It’s dedicated to the pursuit of justice (and Christian, pro-life views do not end once a baby is born, but that’s another post for another time), loving my neighbor (even when I don’t agree with them) and trying to leave this world a better place.

I will continue to pray because that is the most important piece. You know what else I will continue to do? Be active. Be a voice. Use my freedom to hold accountable politicians. Demand for more. And live everyday as I think Jesus would – serving, loving and sharing the hope I have in Christ.

Things I'm Loving

Little Things I’m Loving #1

I’m excited to relaunch this series! If you followed She Laughs, then this will look a lot like the Little Letters Series. I figured new blog = revamped series! Plus it gave me an excuse to play with graphics. Alright, so here’s a few things I’m loving right now.

Stranger Things. I don’t know if I can adequately put into words the love I have for this show. I was hooked as soon as I started watching Season 1 and was counting down the days to Season 2. Even though it came out the weekend before Halloween (and yep, I watched it all in one weekend), I’m still thinking about it. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. It’s the mysterious sci-fi, the keep you at the edge of your seat, the humor, the acting, the 80s, the friendship…ALL THE THINGS. I’m planning on rewatching the whole series soon. You know, hold me over until Season 3. For real though y’all, I already own multiple shirts, sweatpants and pens. I don’t play in my fandom.

David Crowder. I’ve been a fan for well over a decade, but seriously, what a gift he has. This song right here. Man. Just what my heart needed. Plus Tauren Wells? Dang….how have I not heard of him before this?

Christmas Lights. I can’t say that I have my house decorated, but y’all, I LOVE the Christmas lights around my neighborhood. I also love how my office is decorated – its full of lights and Christmas trees and all things cheery. It’s just so inviting and makes me so happy!

Pottermore Quizzes. Can one really have too much Potter? I vote no. If y’all are fans, what house were you sorted into? In the Buzzfeed and other type quizzes, I have always gotten 60% Gryffindor and 40% Ravenclaw. I’ve taken the quiz twice on Pottermore (because why not right?) and I got two different results. You guessed it, Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. 🙂 I totally took Patronus quiz again too. The first time I got a Buzzard. Wha? Why not pick an exact species because my first thought isn’t a powerful bird of prey, but a vulture’s bestie. This must be an American and English difference. When I took it again, I got a Grey Squirrel. I still vote I should have gotten a wolf or otter or something along those lines, but I’ll roll with those two…I guess…

What about y’all? What’s making you happy these days?

Book Reviews, Fiction

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas | Book Review

Judd Markley is a hardworking coal miner who rarely thinks much past tomorrow until he loses his brother–and nearly his own life–in a mine cave-in. Vowing never to enter the darkness of a mine again, he leaves all he knows in West Virginia to escape to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s 1954, the seaside community is thriving, and Judd soon hires on with a timber company.

Larkin Heyward’s life in Myrtle Beach is uncomplicated, mostly doing volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more–maybe moving to the hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she’s never even met someone who’s lived there–until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father’s timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a devastating hurricane, Judd and Larkin each seek answers to what tomorrow will bring. As opposition rises against following their divergent dreams, they realize that it may take a miracle for them to be together.

Sarah Loudin Thomas has written a well researched historical and very romantic story. There’s no doubt about that. If you enjoy romance set in interesting places and times, I think you should check this one out. It’s definitely a love story for the hopeless romantics.

But, I can’t say it was my favorite of her novels. You see, this one isn’t like her previous novels and series, where the heroines each had unique qualities and characteristics. I LOVED that about them. It was such a different take on a historical fiction novel (with the thread of romance as well), and it added a creative layer to the story and the different relationships of the characters. I was hoping for something like that again. I know it’s not always fair to judge novels that way, but I’m human internet :).

So while this isn’t my favorite from Thomas, if you love all things romance, be sure to give this one a chance.

(Thank you to Bethany House for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Fun Finds

Fun Finds for Everyday #2

Oh hey December! Well, there’s no snow in my area this month (although it was a warm 10 degrees this week), but in a funny twist, family and friends in both Louisiana and Texas have gotten all the snow. I guess they’re just trying to be like The Springs :). Anyway, I hope this Christmas season has started off beautifully for you and that you are encouraged by the hope we celebrate a little bit extra this month!

And if you need some gift ideas, these might help!

1. Awesome Tolkien Shirt. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Thanks to the internet, I’m the absolute easiest person to shop for. Get me something of Tolkien or Lewis and I’m set. Like this shirt for example or the coffee mug. Seriously. I’ll be the happiest person.

2. See above.

3. Jute Clutch. With Christmas parties and NYE parties coming up, it’s always nice to have a pretty clutch option. I love mine! It’s in gold, but was a hit at the NYE party I went to last year!

4. Sunburst Ring. I love rings! When I find one I love, I’m wearing it all the time. I love the simplicity of this design and the silver. Plus sunbursts make me smile.

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

Book Reviews, Fiction

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy & Erin Woodsmall | Book Review

Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them.
Promises shattered.
Lies spoken.
She was arrested.
He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.

Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire. 



Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.



Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?

This is for my readers who love a Christmas romance! Releasing her first non-Amish novel, Cindy Woodsmall teams up with her daughter-in-law, Erin Woodsmall, bringing readers a love story spanning over a decade.

There’s romance, faith and Christmas – a great mix for my contemporary romance fans. With a Hallmark movie feel and topics that go beyond a love story, I know fans of Woodsmall will enjoy this southern fiction read.

But more than the sweet romance, this story also deals with important issues, such as foster care and children who go through speech therapy, inviting readers to look into lives that may not be their own or in their circles. I really enjoyed that piece of the story and love when authors are willing to go deeper.

What’s one of your favorite Christmas novels?

(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Book Reviews, Fiction

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano | Book Review

When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.

When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance–and perhaps even her father’s death.

What a debut! It’s been awhile since I’ve been incredibly impressed with a debut! Mystery, intrigue, more mystery, romance and a totally captivating story.

This was one of those reads I had to finish in one sitting. It was haunting, unique and not all characters turned out as you thought. There were a couple pieces I wanted to know more about at the end, but even with that, I so enjoyed this journey.

I also loved that many characters were not exactly as they first appeared. With each new layer peeled back, Politano revealed deeper levels and deeper reasons for a character’s behavior. Misunderstandings, revelations, and faith all make up this entertaining and fantastic debut!

Have you had the chance to read this debut?

(Thank you to Revell for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Inklings

In Celebration of His Birthday: 11 Favorite Quotes of C.S. Lewis

In celebration of Jack’s (aka C.S. Lewis) birthday, I thought I’d share 11 of my favorite quotes of Lewis.

1. “He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

2. “It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.” The Horse and His Boy

3. “If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator? Men are fools, perhaps; but hardly so foolish as that. The direct inference from black to white, from evil flower to virtuous root, from senseless work to a workman infinitely wise, staggers belief. The spectacle of the universe as revealed by experience can never have been the ground for religion: it must have been something in spite of which religion, acquired from a different source, was held.” The Problem of Pain

4. “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The Problem of Pain

5. “When I began teaching for the English Faculty, I made two other friends, both Christians (these queer people seemed now to pop up on every side) who were later to give me much help in getting over the last stile. They were H. V. V. Dyson (then of Reading) and J. R. R. Tolkien. Friendship with the latter marked the breakdown of two old prejudices. At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.” Surprised By Joy

6. “Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.” Mere Christianity

7. “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Mere Christianity

8. “Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” The Weight of Glory

9. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” The Four Loves

10. “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.” The Great Divorce

11. “Dear Wormwood,
Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage which the religion becomes merely a part of the “cause”…Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won you man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours – and more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here,
Your Affectionate Uncle,
Screwtape”
The Screwtape Letters

There are so many others (I made myself stop adding quotes from Narnia), you really can’t go wrong with words from Jack. What are some of your favorite books and/or quotes of Lewis?

Book Reviews, Fiction

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay | Book Review

Falling into the past will change their futures forever.

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues—particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings arise, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

I’ve been a fan of Reay’s novels since her debut! I always look forward to what’s coming next and this did not disappoint.

Like Austen’s heroines, Reay takes Mary and Isabel on their own journeys of self discovery. Full of mistakes, misunderstandings, romance and touching moments that remind you it’s never too late to find yourself.

As a fan of Austen’s novels, I thoroughly enjoyed all the references and characters brought up throughout the novel. Reay did an excellent job of paying homage to Austen’s stories, characters and Austen’s incredible talent, but also made the story her own (sidenote: I loved that Mary was an engineer and how that played into the novel). It’s a story that grabs you, charms you and makes for an excellent read.

And of course I loved the all the references of Austin. How could I not?

If you enjoy contemporary women’s fiction, add this one to your list!

Have you read Katherine Reay’s novels? If so, which one is your favorite?

(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Love and Faith

What If?

I’ve learned that when God wants to teach me something (and usually a repeat lesson, I can be stubborn on occasion), He is the most Creative out there. He doesn’t stop at Scripture or prayer (although I’m a fan of both). He brings in all the things – even a country song.

Have you heard the song “What If” by Kane Brown? It hit the radio a few months ago. It’s super catchy and cute and I became an instant fan. Here’s some of the lyrics:

You say what if I hurt you, what if I leave you
What if I find somebody else and I don’t need you
What if this goes south, what if I mess you up
You say what if I break your heart in two then what…

What if I was made for you and you were made for me
What if this is it, what if it’s meant to be
What if I ain’t one of them fools just playin’ some game
What if I just pulled you close, what if I leaned in
And the stars line up and it’s our last first kiss
What if one of these days baby I’d go and change your name
What if I loved all these what ifs away

When it came on the radio several weeks back, I thought to myself how the “What If” idea isn’t only for romance. It’s for all aspects of life. It’s easy to become cynical in the world we’re living, but I never want to.

Recently, the Life Group I host and co-lead picked a study by Mark Batterson and you know what it’s called? What If. No lie. The whole bible study is based around Romans 8:31:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

In one of the recent video studies, Batterson talked about Ephesians 3:20. It’s been a life verse for several years now. Years back, when I was in Austin, my church did a whole series on it. Through this new study, God has been reminding me what He taught me back in Austin. No joke, a couple of days after that study, my morning scripture reading was Ephesians 3. I legit laughed out loud as soon as I opened up my bible. To top it off, I started decorating for Christmas (Judge away internet. Judge away. ;)) and an ornament I didn’t even know I had, had Ephesians 3:20 written on it.

I’ve kept this for years and is a reminder I see every morning

There’s been conversations with friends, with coworkers and even other books I’ve read….all things that God has brought into my path, reminding me Who He is, what He is able to do and what He wants to do. So why would I ever stop asking What If?

What if…
…I could get that job?
…that dream was worth going after?
…I became the parent I believe I could be?
…that relationship were possible?
…We pursued adoption?
…I could make that move?
…I put myself out there to make friends?
…I took that chance?

These are several “what ifs” I’ve heard people in my life ask and prayer through. I’ve been inspired by these people. In the past, I’ve sometimes done the, “well if I don’t ask for it, I won’t be disappointed when God says no.” It’s easier that way isn’t it? But what a depressing and fearful way to live. We were made for so much more.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I’ll share one more quote from the video study that has stuck with me since: “God has blessings for you in categories that you don’t even know exist.”

May we always live life that way. Expectant and willing.

What I love about this truth is, it’s for everyone. Whether you’re “what if” makes you famous or whether it gives you the courage to be the parent you want to be (or both!), God’s truth remains the same and that “what if” will change the world.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

What’s the “What If” in your life?

And in case you want to hear the country song – here y’all go!