Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How To Read More Books In 2014

Reading Resolution Survival Tips. 

Anyone up to a reading challenge? I’m starting one for myself and anyone else who’d like to join.

The Freestyle Reading Challenge.

Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Not a gushy or creative title, but I’m open to suggestions. =)

This challenge is not confined to a certain genre or time schedule as long as the goal number is accomplished before the end of the year.

My personal 2014 goal: 50 books. Small, but it’s twice the number of titles I read this year. (I shot for 75 and read 25. Shame on me.) Plus, next year I’ll be working on two new writing projects and finishing up an old one, so I don’t want to aim too high and get discouraged.

Here are some tips I’m going to use to stick with the plan:

1. Set a reasonable goal. But push yourself a little past your comfort level so you have something to strive for. You’ll feel more accomplished at the end of the challenge for having met the goal, but you won’t flounder at the end of January and grow woozy at the thought of absorbing another syllable.

2. Use mostly books you really WANT to read, as well as a few you want to HAVE READ. There are books I’m so excited about reading, I could squeal. Yes, indeed. But then there are those I know I NEED to read, but I’m not necessarily excited about. Space those out between the “fun” ones.

3. Lose the guilt of speed-reading. I’m a perfectionist. I get that lost-my-phone feeling if I don’t read every word. However, when consuming large amounts of literature in a limited time frame, especially nonfiction, I have to ignore that twinge and know that getting the main point is what matters. This is no excuse to be lazy, though. Skimming the table of contents does not constitute a book read. =)

4. Use a library sorting tool. Goodreads is my current favorite. I recently joined Novel Crossing for Christian fiction books and am excited to explore it a little more. These websites help you keep track of your titles, TBR lists, and have-read lists. You can rate books, leave reviews, and recommend to your friends. Even create a little book-o-meter that tells you how many books you’ve read this year and gives you a percentage of your progress. Add me on Goodreads.com: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6500254-natalie

5. Don't be afraid to change your goal number mid-challenge. This last tip is taboo for some. Sounds like cheating. Maybe so. But this is your challenge, so make it work for you. If life turns belly-up and you get behind, like I-get-cross-eyed-and-a-little-nauseous-when-I-think-about-my-lack-of-progress behind, lower the goal number to something feasible and try for a few more. It’s way better than giving up, and you still have some sense of achievement at the end of the challenge. Works the other way, too. If you meet your goal early, raise the par!

Need book ideas? 
Here are just a few of the titles I enjoyed in 2013:

And here are a few I grabbed from my 2014 TBR list:

 672493 18301156 6973752 13499195 13511369 17253180 13554235 3623698 10432892

I’ll post a progress update or two throughout the year. Check into this blog anytime for encouragement or to report your progress. 

So, challenge accepted?

I’m always looking for new titles. What are some books you're excited to read in 2014? 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Word of Praise

 I ran across this poem again the other day and wanted to share. It has helped me many times over the years.

This I Know
by E. Margaret Clarkson

I do not know what next may come
Across my pilgrim way;
I do not know tomorrow's road,
Nor see beyond today.
But this I know --my SAVIOUR knows
The path I cannot see;
And I can trust His wounded hand
To guide and care for me.


I do not know what may befall,
Of sunshine or of rain;
I do not know what may be mine,
Of pleasure and of pain;
But this I know -- my SAVIOUR knows
And whatsoe'er it be
Still I can trust his love to give
What will be best for me.


I do not know what may await,
Or what the morrow brings;
But with the glad salute of faith,
I hail its opening wings;
For this I know -- that in my LORD
Shall all my needs be met;
And I can trust the heart of Him,
Who has not failed me yet. 

 He is faithful, even when I am not. His love always amazes me.

"Oh for grace to trust him more!"

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Who wants to be the burning bush? Any volunteers? *Cricket Noises*

Exodus 3 
1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

     I read this passage a couple months ago and it has come back to me repeatedly. I keep thinking about that bush, planted by God on a mountain in the backside of the desert to be used at this one moment. A bush? On fire? In the middle of nowhere? Poor little bush. What was God thinking, right?
A few scattered things stood out to me about this story.
#1. The bush is in the desert. Because God put it there. Make sure if you're in a hard, dry place in your life, it's because God put you there. Sometimes we find ourselves in a wilderness of hardship and correction when we stubbornly pursue our will over God's. But if God has placed you in a wilderness, be faithful. He has a purpose.
#2. The bush never spoke in this passage, simply stayed where God put it and God did the talking. It's not what we do or say in our own strength, but what He says through us that makes a difference. Who knows when that one person will walk by who needs to hear a Word from God?
#3. The bush is unnamed. There are several species of trees or plants mentioned throughout the Bible. Mulberry, hyssop, palm, etc. We don't even know what kind of bush this is. Wouldn't you think the only bush God spoke out of would be named specifically? But it's not. Sometimes we wish for recognition in the times of obscure service. But would people glorify us or God? Would we make an idol of our own pride? As fallen humans, some hearing the story might have worshipped the bush if they had known what kind it was. Hey, they worshipped the statue of a calf, didn't they? But the bush's only purpose was to instigate worship of God. God got the glory. Not the bush.
#4. The burning bush only reached one man. Moses. But that one led thousands out of bondage and into the freedom of God's plan for their lives.
#5. What if the bush had given up? Life in the parched, sandy craggs didn't hold any parties or fellowship with the other trees and bushes. What if Mr. Shrub had said, "Forget this. I'm going to go party at the oasis where all the other bushes are"? Maybe Moses would have missed God's instruction for his life that day. More likely, God would have chosen another bush for the task. But because of his faithfulness, Mr. Shrub received the honor of being mentioned in the Bible. Yes, there is hardship in the desert, but do not give up. If we do, God can always use another. When we keep serving Him where He puts us, God will be glorified and we will be blessed.

What is your wilderness? Did God place you there or did you run upon it while pursuing your own desires? Maybe you are pursuing His call for your life, but it seems the road He's chosen heads straight through the wilderness. Is your calling faithfulness or repentance? In either case, God stands ready to help. Turn to him. He will be all you need.