Thursday, June 28, 2012

Belle & Books

Beauty and the Beast is probably my all-time favorite Disney flick. I practically swoon every time I watch the opening scene where she enters the bookshop and flies around the the ladder searching for the next story to captivate her and then strolls through town with her nose stuck in the book. I want to be Belle. Just in case you want to see it for yourself...

So now that I've thouroughly nerdified myself, I'll get on with the meat of this post, assuming anyone is still reading. :)

One of the things I was most looking forward to when school (both teaching and finishing my Masters) was over was having time to read stuff I actually wanted to read! As exciting as journal articles for my capstone and textbooks on educational theory are, I was dying to read some stuff that has been on my must-read list for ages.

So here's what I've read so far this summer:  

The Hunger Games & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins: I devoured the first two books in the The Hunger Games Trilogy and am waiting on third to come available at the library. I know I'm a little late on this bandwagon (I usually am a bit tardy to the party), but I'd heard all the hype (especially from my kids all school year, I was asked with great enthusiasm a jillion times, "Mrs. Burnett, have you read The Hunger Games yet?" "Oh, you've got to read it!" (as a side note, I was just totally pumped that so many kids were reading, and moreover were excited to read at that! Did this ol' English teacher's heart good!)) and I will say the books did not disappoint! I'm a fan. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I have my misgivings...I'm one of those annoying "the book was sooo much better than the movie" people. 

Life of Pi by Yann Martel: Well, I don't know that I can say I read this because I didn't technically read all of it. I read all of it I could stand: 227 of its excruciatingly boring and theologically whack-o 319 pages. And I made myself push that far through it (I have this annoying, compulsive urge that if I start a book then I have finish it, regardless of whether it is making me wish I was watching paint dry instead of burying my head in its pages.) But as I said, I only made it about 2/3 of the way through this, the first book I ever remember not finishing. While it sounds exciting enough--a boy survives a shipwreck and finds himself on a life boat with, among other beasts, a Bengal tiger--I do not reccomend it. Satiate your need for action/adventure/survival stories elsewhere.   

The Help by Kathryn Stockett: Of course, I'm late to the party here, too. But I am so glad I resisted the urge to see the movie when it was all anyone was talking about because it definitely did not measure up to the book! Stockett did such an amazing job developing the characters and the dynamics between them. I was truly drawn into the story and emotionally invested in the lives of the characters (I warned you in paragraph one of this post I was the nerdy bookworm type, so I make no apologies for being "emotionally invested in the lives of the characters.") Being a proud Mississippi native, this book was at times hard to swallow and made me cringe at the history of my home state in regard to race relations and civil rights. But Stockett's writing made this familar, but sometimes forgotten, message resonate deeply: that we are all--regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender--people, we all matter, and we should treat each other as such. 

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis with Beth Clark: the absolutely incredible--and I mean for that to carry the full weight of both of those words--story of a young woman from Brentwood, TN who took and is taking God at His Word, living out the Gospel in Uganda. I read the whole book in one day, but it's not one of those stories you just read and forget about. It's a powerful reminder of who God is, what he asks of those of us who claim His name, and how Muster up some courage to drink in Katie's example of what full obedience, service, and dependence on Jesus looks like. It's not that we all have to pack up and move to Uganda to truly serve Jesus, but I know I've got some re-evaluating to do concerning my Americanized, comfortable, riskless Christianity.      

Up next...

finish The Reason for God by Tim Keller: I'm only a couple chapters in, and I already think everybody, believer or skeptic should read this book. Fascinating, and I would say, a near essential read for those who need to process through life's hard questions and/or want to encourage someone else who is both wondering and wandering.

and lots of reading for school (which will be starting back in just over a month! what?!)...

Brain Rules by John Medina: a school-wide read to support our goal for the 2012-2013 school year. I am actually excited to dive into this. I attended a brain-based-learning seminar last fall, and it truly is incredible how intricately designed our brains are and what makes them function and learn at optimal levels. God is such an amazing Creator!

And the three novels for my my first reading unit I'll be teaching when school starts: The Master Puppeteer, Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and Black Horses for the King.

So what have you been reading? Do tell! :)

{Oh, and one more thing: if you click on any of the titles I mentioned it will take you a site called Better World Books. I started buying from this site rather than or the like because for every book purchased, Better World Books donates a book to someone in need and raises funds for literacy and libraries. Sometimes their prices are a tad higher than BUT the fact that Better World Books offers FREE shipping worldwide usually compensates for that difference. *I'm no compensated spokesperson for BWB...I just love finding and shopping with companies who give back! Easy way to make my spending more purposeful!   

Saturday, June 9, 2012

75 cents worth of service

75 cents won't buy much these days, but look what it scored me yesterday at Walmart...

Granted they were 75 cents each, but all the other small and not nearly as cute and cheery-colored pots were $3+ each, so 5 pots for less than $4 made my's really the small things, people! :)

These were just perfect for the little "happies" I had in mind as I attempt to live out Philippians 2:3-4. (If you read my last post I'm trying to serve at least 1 family member, 1 friend, and 1 stranger each week--a little plan to help me ditch the good intentions and actually get on with being less me-focused and more others-focused. 

So these pots plus some left over vinca plants (that I've had sitting lonely on the patio since I planted our front flower beds a month ago!), a little ribbon, and a note helped me get of my comfortable box, over my silly fear and go introduce myself to our neighbors. Yes, that's right, I said "introduce." We've lived in our house for three years (!) now, and I have yet to take time to meet, let alone get to know, anyone on our street except for our next door neighbors on our right. Shameful.Pathetic.Ridiculous.that my neighbors fall into this "stranger" category as I seek to serve people. I'm praying for courage, and to be honest, simply the desire to really reach out and care for those outside of my "normal" sphere.

After I play out several inane scenarios in my head, I convince myself of three things: my neighbor really can't be that scary, I can stand awkwardness for 5 minutes, and seriously, who would refuse a flower in a cute-even-if-it-was-only-75-cents-pot?

Time to dig in.    

I drag myself out the door feeling like I've got fifty pound weights on my ankles, and you know what? My-82-years-old-two-doors-down-neighbor was not at all scary, the awkwardness lasted less than a minute, and she happily accepted the card and little potted plant as she graciously invited me in to chat for a few minutes.

Yes, I know stopping by to say hi and deliver a plant seems simple and insignificant as far as "serving" someone goes, but I'm praying that this small step will just be the first step in developing a friendship with this lady, getting to know her, and being able to find more ways to serve and show her Christ's love.

Now I've got 4 plants left and more stranger-neighbors to visit...        

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


So I mentioned in my last post that I am trying to make the most of my summer. Since I teach and technically "don't have to work" (at least not my real, paying job) during the summer, and since this is the first summer since I graduated high school (can that really be SIX years ago?!) that I have not been in summer school and working, too, I have more time on my hands than I have had, well, since ever! Of course, like everyone does, I have a list a mile long of have-to's and want-to's to accomplish this summer, but God has been impressing upon my heart for months now the conviction that this summer--and indeed, my entire life--is not about me. This is not necessarily a new revelation, but my life has been so consumed by school for the past six years that I have not had--or I should confess and say probably more accurately, not made--time for truly reaching out and serving others.

And that is why I am here, right? To serve?

"Do nothing from rivalry 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." 
Philippians 2:3-4 

And if I call myself a disciple of Christ, I'm supposed to be, through His grace and power, imitating Him, right?

"Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Ephesians 5:1-2

And that's why Jesus came, right? To serve? To love sacrificially?

Though He was God, He made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
Philippians 2:6-8

And now I need to backtrack a little bit: Last year, I read through the New Testament with our church, and as I read through the Gospels, I was struck by how many times it is mentioned that Jesus "had compassion" on the crowds or the individuals that surrounded Him. But what pierced me even more is the fact that His "compassion" always moved Him to action--meeting some spiritual and/or physical need that the crowd or person had (See Matthew 9:35-36, 15:32-38, 20:34, and various other echoes throughout the other three Gospels.).

So what does this mean for me? If I recognize compassion in the scriptures, feel it in my heart, and know "how to" do compassion in my head, but it never moves my hands and feet to action, then that recognition and knowledge is worthless...then I don't really "get" compassion because... 

True compassion is love in action.

So now what? How do I live like I believe His Word and example?

I'm often the queen of good intentions in this area. I know the truth but fail to apply it. There is one word that has been resounding in my mind since all of this began swirling around in my heart a couple of months ago: INTENTIONALITYI've got to live intentionally for true compassion to take root and spill out into the lives of others.

God knows the slightly OCD, planner in me (can I get an "Amen!" for calendars and to-do-lists? :)), and I'm so grateful He is teaching me to let go and trust Him and His plan. BUT, I think He also knows that sometimes having a distinct plan is just what I need to get my hands and feet moving in sync with what He is doing in my heart. SO, I've taken the long route to get here (thanks for enduring my ramblings!), but here's the "plan" He laid on my heart a few days ago:

Every Week

Three People

1 family member


1 friend


1 stranger


{Love in Action}

As I think about this charge the Lord has impressed upon me, I'm reminded of a post from a sweet friend where she quoted the following "Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything." I certainly can't do everything, meet every need, but I can, and must, do something if I claim the name of Christ. Like they say, people may doubt what you say, but they will always believe what you do. So my words and actions must go hand in hand. Through Jesus I want to be an encouragement, finding little ways to minister to people's tangible needs as well as their spiritual.  

Would you please chime in with suggestions (in the comments below) for ways to bless and serve those family members, friends, and strangers? I'd love to hear your ideas, big or small! I know sometimes its the seemingly small or even insignificant acts of service that can be the biggest blessing as people live Philippians 2:3-4...a note in the mail, a dinner you don't have to cook, a clean car, a night of babysitting, groceries, prayer, sharing scripture, a phone call...

Or maybe you might take this "1+1+1" challenge this summer, too?

image via

Praying God will open my eyes to see the needs all around me and give me the sensitivity and boldness needed to act. Now to get to it! :) 

Hello, again.

Well, I'm back...after the most crazy busy, stressful--but good--year of my life!

I know you all (I'm pretending I have a stellar, loyal, and large readership) have been anxiously awaiting my next riveting post! (Thank you for indulging this illusion delusion.) Since I have posted all of about three times since August of last year, I'm sure my all of about two readers have jumped ship by now, but that is just fine with me...I "blog" mainly for have an "outlet" for my ever-running mind and as a sort of scrapbook-ish chronicle of our life. (Many thanks to my paternal Grandmama for passing down her journalling habit. Her mounds of spiral notebooks are my tapping out on the screen--but I admit, I do have a few notebooks, too.)

Now to return from that most necessary digression. So with my next several posts, I plan to try to catch myself up on this past record some thoughts and lessons learned from my very first year of teaching full-time...and losing a granddaddy...and a small home reno (vaguely strongly reminiscent of Money Pit)...and finishing my M.A.Ed....and Paul finishing his B.S...and simply life in between it all.

While this summer is already filled with lots of stuff--baby showers and weddings and parties and curriculum training and vacation and books to read and projects to complete...--I'm praying to make the most of it. (Next post will share one way I'm praying for boldness and follow-through to make that happen.)

Happy, Happy Summer, Everyone!
(remember, I'm pretending to have a boatload of readers)
Hope your days are filled to the brim with all the best and then let that spill over in blessings to others!

{a little of God's goodness from our recent trip to Hilton Head, SC}
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