Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Spotify Songs Most Likely to Get Me Chair Dancing

Are you a chair dancer? I know I am. I know Andi is.

If these jams come on my Spotify list while I have my headphones on at work it takes a lot for me not to start doing some shoulder dipping and air drum playing.

And since I was too lazy to figure out how to embed the Spotify links here, you get the YouTube videos. And good grief some of these videos are bad.

Gypsy Girl - Big Country

I love pretty much every Big Country song, but this one of the few that gets me dancing. (Dance party is in the middle-ish, it's a slow burn.)

Carry Out - Timbaland and Justin Timberlake

These two are having way too much fun.

 California Soul- Marlena Shaw

Is this the state song of California? It should be. Let's talk to Governor Brown. (Did you know he has TWO corgis?)

Miss Jackson - Panic! at the Disco

I'm confused by the on fire tire, but whatever, fine. Well, that's not the sum of my confusion but I'm not cool enough to know the rest probably so carry on.

 Over the Hills and Far Away - Gary Moore

I love this song so much, and then I saw the video for the first time writing this post and I love it more. The song is about a guy who gets falsely accused of robbery but can't defend himself because he was with his best friend's wife at the time. In what world is that a child's bed time story?! The 80sness is so so strong. Just bask in it.

Hideaway - Kiesza

Everything about her outfit makes my brain hurt, but the song is awesome so ignore the suspenders and acid washed jeans.

Dangerous - David Guetta

The completely annoying thing about this video is that it takes at least 3 minutes to get to the song. I realize that music videos give musicians the chance to pretend to be what they wanted to be when they grow up and David Guetta really really wanted to be a race car driver. Live your childhood dreams on someone else's time Monsieur Guetta.

 Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers

Uh, you guys, DMX samples this song. I'm in NO way okay with this. Grumble grumble.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Book review: "Eleanor" by Jason Gurley

Eleanor and Esmeralda are a set of twins living in the Pacific Northwest in the early 90s. Their lives change forever on what soggy, fateful day, along with their mother Agnes....

In the 60s, Eleanor goes for a swim in the ocean, one of the few places where she feels at ease. When she leaves her husband Hob and her daughter Agnes for her routine Sunday swim she doesn't realize there will be nothing routine about it...

These two stories and their timelines (along with more) are intertwined and revealed in this ambitious book. I liked where the book was going. I liked the characters, and almost all of the storytelling. However, I felt like one of the story lines (the supernatural one, which would probably be the one that I would like the most!) just didn't click for me. It was a little murky. And not in a "oh mysterious!" way or a "Library of Mount Char" way ("What in the actual hell is going on here?!") It seemed like it was supposed to be pretty clear but I was struggling. Though when you get to the end of the book it pays off, it just falls kind of flat since you're not as invested because you're confused?  But maybe you guys are all just smarter than me and will get it all right away :)

This book is really about grief, family relationships, and carrying on when faced with the unexplained and the incredibly hard.  The relationship between mom Agnes and daughter Eleanor is so heartbreaking and sad, but probably a pretty accurate representation of what can happen when a family has to deal with grief and tragedy.

I've made this book sound really depressing, and while it is sad it doesn't make you feel like you've just read something super depressing. The story is interesting enough that you don't get weighted down with the sad. I give it a 3.2 out of 5 because I liked where it was going but it didn't quite seal the deal with me.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Holy Week Book Review: "The Importance of Being Foolish" by Brennan Manning

Sometimes I struggle with reviewing particular books because all I want to do is share out of context quotes. I usually resist this temptation but NOT THIS DAY! Just for SOME context, you can see my previous posts about the awesome and complicated Brennan Manning here and here. And the bible verse from which this title takes it's name (there are a couple of options, but I think it's this one most predominately) is 1 Corinthians 1:18 "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

And now that there is a teeny bit of context let's go to the text onslaughts!

"Consider how our churches have explored and exploited our need to replace the numbness in our lives with a passion for something, anything...We have created cathartic experiences filled with weeping and dancing in the Spirit that leave us with the sense that we have touched God but that fail to give us the sense that God has touched us. We run to the churches where the message feels good and where we feel energized and uplifted - but never challenged or convicted".

If the church that you go to never makes you take a hard look at your life and see what is out of line with what God wants, there might be a problem......

This next quote is referencing how Peter denied knowing Jesus during his trials before the crucifixion.

"Peter's betrayal of the Master, like so many of our own moral relapses and refusals to walk with the LORD, was not a terminal failure but an occasion for painful personal growth into the person God intended him to be".

We are going to mess up, sometimes in really big ways. God knows this and uses these experiences to have us grow in him. If he abandoned his children at the first sign of weakness He would be even busier than he already is.

And ending with a Mother Theresa quote:

"It is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we are doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving".

Everyone - Thanks for spending another Holy Week with me on the blog. Remember to do small things with great amounts of love - which doesn't JUST mean letting your sibling have the last Cadbury egg. Blessed Easter to you all.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Holy Week: Quotes and good things to remember...

Today was supposed to be just Easter related things to share, but then I fell down an inspiring rabbit whole and now we have some variety! Have a blessed Good Friday. It is truly a GOOD Friday.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My continuing quest to find a book that might only exist in my head: Reformation edition

I want to read a book about the Protestant Reformation. One that doesn't just focus on Martin Luther, but also on the people before him, the people who came after him, and what the large implications of the reformation were on society in general. I didn't really have specific parameters other than that, at the beginning. So I started by shooting an email to my local library's reference librarian.

These were the books that were suggested by her:



None of these were quiiiiiite what I wanted. So I went back to the drawing board to actually think about what I wanted out of this book and then posted it on facebook. Being Lutheran and having gone to Lutheran schools my whole life I have a lot of Lutheran friends who might have taken an interesting Reformation class that I didn't take because it was at 8am on a Friday (or some such thing).

Ok Lutheran hive brain.
I need a book on the Reformation. Not just Luther (Hus, Calvin, everyone), and not just the religious elements but the political, social, (etc) implications. Less than 500 pages. Written in the last 20 years.
I don't know if this book exists but I'd like to read it.

 It turns out that it was librarians to the rescue again! My high school roomate's little sister is a librarian and with my new parameters she gave me these recommendations



All of them fit in my parameters and looked like great options. I checked out a few. And then found these on my own:



 (I love this cover it's so weird and creepy and great)

And what does this boil down to? A house full of library books on the Reformation and I have started almost all of them and yet none were read and reviewed in time to make it to #HolyWeek2016. Oh.My.Word. Reformation fail. Anyway, when I finally get through this pile and find the perfect book on the Reformation I will let you know. Until then...

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Holy Week Book Review: "Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God" by Sheila Walsh

(First note, beautiful things happend when anyone trusts in God. Not just the ladies.)

Tip of the hat to Jen Hatmaker who mentioned this book in her email to her subscribers. (Though I love Jen and I wish that she'd told me about the book while we were curled up with tea in her beautiful backyard, but whatever. She like a tweet of mine once. I guess I'll just hold onto that for now.)

I didn't know who Sheila was before I read this book. BUT it turns out that she has written several books  , has hosted The 700 Club and is a singer. She also has spent time in a mental institution, and struggled with some things. This book talks about her struggle to trust God and his plan for her. Her story is interwoven in with biblical tales about trust and change and being open to God's plan for us. I hope this isn't an unkind thing to say but I found the Biblical parts the most telling. But I have a good reason why. 

I think people have a hard time putting the Bible into context with historical events. Like, she mentions that Paul is preaching around the time of Roman emperor Nero. I know that I have a hard time putting things on a timeline (an not just biblical events. What else was happening when Napoleon was thundering around? Genghis Khan? The Ming Dynasty). So when she points those things out it's really helpful. Also there's information about Jewish social practices, word translations, etc. which really gives a new dimension into what may be really familiar Bible stories.

The story of Lazarus that she recounts had a lot of intereting tidbits.

Did you know:

- "The Jews believed that for 3 days the soul might return to it's grave, t thinking that it would reenter the body; but on day four it sees the color of it's face has changed and leaves for good". (Maybe a reason that Jesus waited so long to raise Lazarus. So that people would know that he was really dead and not like, in a coma. The "he began to smell" part plays into that too.

-Jesus rolls the stone away in front of Lazarus' tomb. "Jesus addresses his friend: "Lazarus, come out. The Greek text translates this literally "Lazarus, it's this way out", for surely Jesus is directing his friend out of a dark place". 

There's also the story of Paul: you find out what perks (and problems) his Roman citizenship presented, how his "mission" style changed post-conversion and how many times he had been shipwrecked (spoiler alert: it's 3).

There's also some really interesting tidbits about the men that Jesus encounters on Good Friday - Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus.

We also hear about Anna (a woman who "shows up and waits" for the LORD to use her), Joseph (maybe bragging about your dreams to your already jealous brothers was not a really great move), and Tabitha a woman who devoted her life to Jesus and the care of the poor.

This book is part memoir and part Bible history, and the Bible history compelled me more. But the openess with which Sheila speaks of her troubles and struggles is humbling and enlightening.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Roundup of Inspiration and Music For Easter by Jamie Lapeyrolerie

A huge thank you to my dear friend Jamie who offered up this thoughtful guest post for Holy Week this year!

Hello everyone! Thank you Wesley for having me on the blog, it's always so much fun and especially on such an important week. This week, leading up to Easter Sunday is such a reminder and encouragement for me. Easter is so much more than Spring, bunnies and candy (although I can eat more Cadbury Mini Eggs than anyone out there. Trust me).

It's a week where I am able to focus on the greatest gift of the Gospel; where Jesus conquered death in Jerusalem and rose on the third day! So today, I thought I'd share with you a roundup of some devotionals (and my favorite quotes) and music that have all helped me to focus on what we celebrate this week and I pray y'all are encouraged as well!

“He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.” Matthew 28:6

Joy at Easter
(Full devotional, “Have You Found What You’re Looking For? (Easter Sunday)” can be found here)
“Jesus went to the cross for joy: to buy joy, create joy, and offer joy.
As the world celebrated the savage killing of God, out of this sea of foaming rebel hostility emerged a blood-bought, inextinguishable joy.

As we have seen this week, the unquenchable joy of Easter was birthed in the greatest trauma and tragedy and evil the world has ever unleashed — the murder of the Son of God. Death, the Devil, demons, and the coordinated rebellion of mankind all allied together cannot stymie this joy. Persecutors cannot steal this joy away. No power, no event, no enemy, can sequester the resurrection joy of Jesus Christ that burst out of the tomb with him.”

“But if death is dead, and if the dead are raised — if Christ is risen from the dead! — brothers and sisters, let us feast and celebrate, for the dawning light of our inextinguishable and inexhaustible eternal pleasures have broken into the darkness, offering us a life of joy in Christ that cannot fade or rust or be stolen away!

Today, delight in the resurrection joy of Christ, pray it bigger in your life, and treasure it for all eternity.”

“Forever” by Kari Jobe
If this song comes on, I tend to get teary-eyed. I love the truth this song proclaims and this stanza especially - it is perfect for Easter.
The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated

Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive

“The Donkey” by G.K. Chesterton
(Full poem can be found here)
Y’all may be wondering what in the what does this poem have to do with Holy Week? This short poem is from the point of view of the donkey Jesus rode on during Palm Sunday and is a reminder that Jesus can and does use all of us! With all our stupidity, missteps and all the other things we do, the Lord still choose to use us. I’m so thankful for that.

“At The Cross (Love Ran Red)” by Chris Tomlin
This is the Easter message in a worship song - I’m reminded of where my hope is found.
There's a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness
Where all the love I've ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

“What an Easter Monday Faith Looks Like” by Ann Voskamp
(Full Devotional can be found here)

“The fullest life itself dawns from nothing but Calvary darkness — and out of tomb-black breaks the radiance of Easter morning.

Out of the darkness of the cross, the world transfigures into new life.”

“This Glorious Grace” by Austin Stone Worship
I’m a little biased since this is my church, but I love the message of Glorious Grace!
God Your grace, like rising seas
Has swallowed death and sin in me
God Your grace like rising seas
Has swallowed death and sin in me
Glory to my God who saves
Jesus Christ, my glorious grace
Glory to my God who saves
Jesus Christ, my glorious grace

“He is Risen!” By Beth Moore
(Full devotional can be found here)
“I cherish the next five words of the angels: "Remember how He told you" (v. 6). Beloved, have you forgotten something He told you? Christ, our Lord, is faithful to His promises. If you're not presently "seeing" Him at work in your situation, do not live as if He's lifeless and you're hopeless.

Believe Him and expect Him to reveal His resurrection power to you!”

“Trust In You” by Laura Daigle
This song reminds me that I can fully trust Him because of the cross. Amen!
Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

And just because here’s one more song:
“Break Every Chain” by Tasha Cobbs
I love this song. That is all.
There is power in the name of Jesus
There is power in the name of Jesus
There is power in the name of Jesus

To break every chain
Break every chain
Break every chain

If interested in more resources, here’s a free download to Holy week devotionals from Desiring God. You can download different formats here.

May you be blessed this week and especially this coming Sunday!

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Monday, March 21, 2016

Holy Week Book Review: "Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust" by Immaculee Ilibagiza

Before we get started I will fully confess that I have very limited knowledge of the Rwandan genocide. It basically amounts to the movie Hotel Rwanda and parts of a few books that I've read concerning forensic anthropologists who go into war torn places to help identify victims and preserve evidence. Even with my relatively meager knowledge, I know that about 1 million people were killed in a few short months. Killed systematically and brutally by coworkers, former friends, neighbors, sometimes even people they knew their whole lives. It has so many parallels to the Nazi led holocaust of Jews and other "undesirables" that it shows that "We can never forget" needs to be more than just a hollow thing that we say sometimes but a vigilant anthem that we keep in the front of our minds, or else this will happen again. And it has already.

(I'm assuming that the title gave it away but the subject matter today will be often unpleasant.)

Here's two things that I learned about Rwanda from this book-
1) It was colonized by the Belgians. So French is the secondary language most taught in schools. (Speaking of Belgian colonization, there's another depressing tale

2) Each member of the family has a unique surname. It's supposed to be specifically stand for what the parents were feeling at the time of the chld's birth. So, hopefully most names are Rwandan for things like "extreme joy!" and "Best day ever!". 

Immaculee and her family were a close knit, Catholic family living in the western part of Rwanda. They weren't wealthy, but they were respected and her parents held education of the highest importance. Both Immaculee and her three brothers were expected to, and did, work very hard and excel at school. They were also a Tutsi family, though this wasn't something of any important to them until the war started.

Immaculee had heard rumblings about unrest while she was away at university a few hours away from her family home. It was right around Easter break, and she had planned on staying at school to study. Her parents begged her to come home, which she did. Not long after she came home, along with a male friend, the war came to their doorstep in the form of men with machetes. Immaculee was told to flee to a local Hutu pastor's house for shelter. He sheltered her and 7 other women in a tiny bathroom that was hidden behind a wardrobe. The room was about 12 square feet.

Most of the time the women had to maintain silence.The pastor's house was searched all the time. There were several close calls. They could hear the machete wielding killers boasting about the atrocities they had committed. They heard the terrible acts themselves. They stay in the bathroom for 90 days.

Immaculee prayed almost constantly for the safety of her brothers and parents. She thought about what she would have to do to survive in her battered country if she survived the war, so she taught herself English.

Immaculee survives, and the story of hers and the other ladies flight from the pastor's house is harrowing. She does not get good news about her family when she reaches relative safety and meets with the other survivors. From her immediate family all but her older brother who is studying in Senegal at the time have been killed.

What this story really boils down to is forgiveness and prayer. Immaculee finds a way to forgive the people who killed her family because she knows she has to. She knows that holding on to that hate and anger in her heart would kill her. It's pretty extraordinary. If I were her I know my heart would be crying our for retribution and probably the very violent kind. The only way that she gets to the point of being able to forgive is through praying for God to work in her heart to enable her to forgive. And there are several times where the fact that she survived can only be chalked up to divine intervention.

This is one of those books that is a weighty, sad read but that you are happy you read in the end. Immaculee's strong faith and her devotion to prayer is incredible and inspiring. 3 stars out of 5!


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Holy Week 2016

Happy Sunday All!

So, you might be aware that this is the beginning of Holy Week for people who are Christians. I'm a Christian and will also be observing it this week.

Every year on the blog (and when I say every year I mean the past two years, the blog is NOT that old and that sounds weird when I say stuff like that) I like to highlight Holy Week by showcasing books and things of a religious nature, and by posting every day. (Hopefully that happens still, did I mention Easter is super early this year and crept up on me a bit?)

Even if you aren't celebrating, I hope that you stick around the blog this week and hear about some of the great books that are in store, a guest blog post by the wonderful Jamie of Books and Beverages and other goodies.

One thing that I do to celebrate Holy Week that you should be glad that you AREN'T seeing is the car karaoke that I do with my sister to the Jesus Christ Superstar album. We are enthusiastic. If maybe you want to do that in the comfort of your own home....ahem.....see below for two of our favorites.

Hope to see you around the blog this week! Happy Palm Sunday!

This is my favorite Judas. (Weird sentence of the week award!) I wish I could cherry pick the different singers and make my own cast. Like I like the above Judas and I like the Peter from this next clip, but Broadway cast Jesus is best....

Friday, March 18, 2016

Movies with Brian - "Spectre"

I grew up a huge James Bond fan. In fact I owned the entire collection on VHS (including Lazenbey’s single showing) during the Brosnan era. Something about that collection of action, camp, and the debonair (probably more misogyny looking back at it) made me want to wear suits and drink something fancy while handling a weapon and government technology that cost somewhere in the ballpark of a public schools 10 year funding plan. As you can imagine I was an incredibly mature person in middle school.
Anyways, the recent changing of the guard that has taken place in this film franchise has been refreshing in many ways. The darker edge to Craig’s Bond has breathed new life into a stale expectation of the typical romp with sexually overt damsel’s in distress (Pussy Galore anyone?), heavy martini drinking, and the legitimately great (or cringe worthy) collection of dad-like witticisms and pick up lines.
In Spectre, however, there is a strange flatness throughout the film. Is this following in the line of the previous Bond reincarnations with a serious edge accented by the well placed wink and/or nod to the fun of Connery or Moore, or is the thematic GPS broken on this thing?
I don’t want to be too harsh, but it just seemed befuddled with what the movie wanted to be. Former Bond star Pierce Brosnan probably had one of the more insightful critiques – it just does not move, it stumbles and falters into strange moments of stillness, raising questions like: Why didn’t you cut this whole section out?

It is not just the dragging on of the storyline either. Note the overt messaging through eye-rolling imagery… at one point I was laughing about how many scenes can take place in all glass buildings. I get that the movie is about the growing and watchful Orwellian figures of the computer age, but the attempt at this serious connotation was too intentional, too aware, and just too consistently prominent – we got the point with the cameras and computers and old family photos… in fact we got the point with the title of the movie!
Now, as mean and nasty as I have been, Spectre was still fun, still had the action and cheek that make Bond worth watching. If you have not seen it, it’s worth checking out at the library (or waiting until Wal-Mart puts it in their $3 bin). But if you really want a Bond for the sake of Bond look elsewhere in the canon.
Happy viewing!

Wesley edit:
Now if you have the Writings of the Wall song stuck in your head, heeeeeeeeeeeeere you go. Truth be told, the video is lame. Maybe just listen and not watch:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Think green....

Today I was going to be ambitious. I was going to craft a blog post about great books by Irish authors, or set in Ireland, or even pictures of when I was in Ireland for two weeks on vacation awhile back. But then I lost my ambition. And got a little sick of talking about books. So this is what we're going to do instead. We're going to look at a bunch of pretty things that are green. Because it's my favorite color and I'm in desperate need of some spring-type things.(Click on pictures for links)

Green Coasters - Drink Coasters - Green Home Decor - Tile Coasters - Ceramic Coasters - Table Coasters On Sale
If you're a fancy person who uses coasters..

Moss table runner-Moss mats-Preserved Moss sheets-Decorative Moss Sheets-Table Runners-Green Moss - Moss Mat
Whhhhhhaat? Love!

Green Bird scarf, Bird scarf, Multi Colour Scarf, Green Scarf, Spring Summer Scarf, For Her
Springy and birdlike!

Decorative Pillow Cover ANY SIZE Green Pillow Duralee Rico Jungle Green

Infinity Necklace, Infinity Pendant and Green Lariat Necklace, Graduation Necklace, Necklace for Mom, Necklace for Her, Bridesmaid Necklace
And some jewelry...

Pleats and Buttons Handbag in Kelly Green
Love love the buttons


 Ok, must stop before I purchase something...