Summer Series: Do What You Love

It’s been a crazy summer. Politics, vacations, new apartments, and just the Louisiana heat make this summer a bit overwhelming. While in the midst of all of these cultural and personal changes, there is one thing I have been trying to remember this summer… and that is to do what I enjoy.

I enjoy many things, but this summer I have really enjoyed reading. I used to read constantly when I was younger, and I was a binge reader so I could read through books pretty quickly. Once I started college I became a bit burnt out from all the scholarly, mandatory reading I had to do for classes, so reading for fun fell to the side in the off months.

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However, since graduating I have enjoyed picking up any book I find interesting and reading as many as I can. The summer provides the perfect time for this since the summers in the South are pretty brutal, so I spend most of my time inside enjoying all the AC (Thank you, Willis Carrier!) that I can. I know, I know… I should be outside… but it is too muggy and too HOT, so I will take my books and my fan, thankyouverymuch.

All this to say, this summer hasn’t really been what I planned. I expected to be at the pool a lot, writing nonstop for the blog, and hammocking. Instead, I have had more free-time than I expected and really found a joy reading and rereading some great books.

Basically, just do what you want this summer.

Do you want to go to the pool everyday? Do it. Do you want to picnic and go camping? Go for it. Do you want to be huddled in your home with a good book and cool air? YES, DO IT.

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This summer is still your summer, and you should do what you love. If you have the time, do it. If you don’t… make a little time to chill and find a hobby. 😉

This summer (which is almost over… NOOOO!) use your spare time to accomplish your goals, even if it is last minute. Do what you love. 

much love. much grace.

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PS. If you want to know what I’m reading this summer, or ever, I am on GoodReads and I love it! I update whenever I can and would love some book suggestions. 

What Would A Rational Person Do?

Let’s be real. The past few months have been a struggle for me. I have had some anxiety issues that I have been dealing with. Often I have found myself asking the question: “What would a rational person do?” during times of irrational amounts of stress and anxiety.

Naturally, the book How To Live In Fear caught my attention because of these moments in my life. I started this book not just to look into anxiety for myself, but also to see how I can help others cope with everyday struggles or panic attacks. I always felt so helpless not knowing how to help someone dealing with anxiety, and this book really addresses how to be more aware of anxiety symptoms and triggers.

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The first thing that struck my attention about this book  was that the author himself lives with anxiety. He is a pastor, father, and husband… and has dealt with anxiety his entire life. Most books I have read have been from people who have studied anxiety, or are popular “Self-Help” speakers, but have never personally dealt with such panic. Just having the author be an advocate and personally experience anxiety made this book all the more interesting to me.

Overall, this book is great for those dealing with mild to severe anxiety or people who know someone who is dealing with these issues. While I learned many new techniques, was encouraged, and gained a new understanding when dealing with anxiety, I did feel that the book was a bit long in page length.

I loved the personal stories and practical knowledge given by the author and other outside sources. He shared stories from his childhood, early-adulthood, and even his recent life that really allow the reader to understand anxiety triggers and his fears in general.

I would recommend this book to those interested in gaining a personal insight about anxiety but do wish there was more psychological and Biblical evidence throughout the book.

 

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Have you read this book by Lance Hahn? What did you think?

Much love. Much grace.

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What is the War You Want to Fight?

The recent events, in our country and around the globe, have caused me to want to know more about people’s lives.

It is always easy to make rash judgements about a person based on his or her religion, clothes, culture, or needs without actually seeing that person for who he or she actually is. While no one can truly know a person, we can come pretty close by reading about how that person feels, thinks, and makes decisions. Reading autobiographies can give us a glimpse into that person’s world and emotions.

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With the events of terror, death, and refugees needing homes; I find it has become a needed practice in my life to put faces and personal lives with the events and struggles. I refuse to take third person’s word about how another group of people is feeling without first seeking out the view of people from that people group.

If you seek to understand others in this way, have a desire for girls to be educated, or are curious about the Middle East as a region, I Am Malala is a great place to start.

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Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala, tells her story of strength and determination to not only be educated as a girl in Swat, but also speaking out against those taking away education from girls. She tells of her life as a Muslim and how radicalism changed her beloved homeland and her life.

Reading this perspective of the change in the Middle East and the dangers of her choices really spoke to me. I struggle often with allowing myself to be carried away with apathy rather than compassion. Her story not only reminded me of the plights of others but also that I need to take these stories and issues to heart. There is so much danger, hate, and fear throughout her story and it is so heartbreaking to know people are forced to live in this everyday. We, as American’s, complain about our individual freedoms being compromised, when in reality we have so much freedom and so many rights.

“I know the importance of education because my pens and books were taken from me by force, but the girls of Swat are not afraid of anyone.”

Malala’s story is not just important because of her plights, but because she chose to fight this war. Her family, peers, and community showed her that there are certain things that are worth the fight.

Reading this book is not just an eye opening experience about what goes on in other culture’s eyes, but also calls readers to answer many questions. The most urgent question being, What is something worth fighting for? What is something that no matter what people say or do, you refuse to back down?

“I would do everything in my power to help educate girls… This was the war I was going to fight.”

These are questions that may seem easy to answer at first, but after reading this book the answers now seem petty.  Looking at the media today with elections and American beliefs in question, what are the things that you feel are worth not just a Tweet or a Facebook rant, but your potential death and wrath of your own country?

How do you answer these questions?

I am still working out many of these for myself as I process this book. Honestly, this will take me time to work through, although I hope to write about this in the future. The one thing I know as of now is that my faith in God is what is unwavering, no matter the circumstances.

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The way Malala writes is very smooth and clear, making her writing very easy to understand. She also does a great job of explaining how her country changed over time into the society it is today. Malala talks about her family, how she was raised a bit differently, and loved her life in her beautiful home of Swat.

I Am Malala is such a wonderful story. It is so full of information, sadness, but also a great hope for the future; as well as important questions for people to answer.

What is the war you are going to fight?

Much love. Much grace.

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Are you interested in helping Malala?

The Malala Fund helps make education a reality for girls in the Middle East. Malala is fighting for education rights of women and supporting her fund is the easiest way to join the fight.

Schoola is supporting the Malala Foundation with certain pieces that are sold from their website.

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Book Love: Things Fall Apart

Compassion. Sadness. Open-Mindedness.

Those are the three things I got from finishing Chinua Acheb’s Things Fall Apart.

As a reader, I felt such compassion for people who seem a bit different from myself. The people in this book are different from me culturally, religiously, and linguistically. They live in tribes, have houses of mud, and beat their (multiple) wives. These people worship spirits of the Earth, fear evil spirits of the unborn, and believe that woman are worthless. The people in this book, and the man who writes it, use a language of which I cannot understand, and will probably never learn.

And yet.

We are so similar. We have loved ones who we try to protect or help. We have communities and rules that we each live by. We are all searching for the thing that will make our lives complete. For Okonkwo, he chases fame, titles, and respect. He follows his culture and is deeply rooted in their traditions, unwilling to change.

That is where  sadness overwhelmed me.

Are we not all like that at times? So comfortable in the ways things have been for decades, weeks, days?  Then, when a part changes, some of us lose ourselves, our faith, or our minds.

Time changes things. People change things.

That is the way life is; we know these changes are bound to happen.

This book is such a great example of what happens when a person is unyielding to change or unwilling to accept others. It helps bring a new opinion and point of view to those in the Western world. The book asks you to be more open-minded.

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This book is a quick read at a 9th grade reading level, but the wording is a bit hard to work through due to the author not having English as a first language.  With that being said, some parts of the book may be a bit dry and hard to get through, but the overall book is worth the read. If you have the time and want to see how other cultures view the Western world, be sure to check out Things Fall Apart.

Much love. Much grace.

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An Open Letter To My Favorite Author

You changed my life.

I am sure many people say that phrase about tacos, celebrities, and other entities… but truly, you changed my life.

See, when I was alone, I would pick up your books and the stories would take me on wonderful adventures of travel and friendships. When I was feeling the burden of loneliness, I could seek companionship in your characters and their lives.

During the years when I was learning how to love myself and how to be confident, you helped show me how confidence can change a life. That being a leader is wonderful and can be done with grace. You showed me how I can lead without abandoning who I am, or what I believe.  You showed me that loving who I am is the best way I can lead and love others.

When I was learning how to navigate relationships, you set the bar. Yes, your characters are imaginary, but to me they felt so real. Your stories were such beautiful examples of how to love, and how to be loved. From your books, I was reminded that I was a “peculiar treasure” that deserved to be cherished, not mistreated.

Your books taught me not to be afraid of change or of reaching out. They taught me how to seek friendships, accept the change that happens, and embrace new things. You taught me how to face the challenges life can give me… and to succeed.

Your books brought me life-skills, advice, and companionship. I will treasure the adventures with your characters forever.

Your books changed how I saw the world. They changed how I viewed my classmates, parents, and the need for compassion in the world.

Your books caused change in my life. You writing these books, caused me to see a whole new world.

You changed my life.

Thank you.

Much love. Much grace.

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**My favorite author of all time is Robin Jones Gunn. She is truly a fun writer. While the books I was particularly fond of are for teen girls, I grew so much while reading them. Be sure to check out her writings for women of all ages!