Reading Goal Update: What Have You Been Reading Lately?

It’s been a long time since I posted an update on my reading goal for the year, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading! My goal at the beginning of the year was to read at least one book a month or twelve books total. I surpassed that goal early in the year; I have read 19 books so far this year! I guess I’ll aim higher next year. 🙂

My last update was for March and April. Here’s what I read in May, June and July.

In May I read two books:

Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson was a book that I was really excited to read, but I must say it wasn’t as good as I was expecting. I had heard so many great reviews about this book, so I was a bit disappointed. I don’t mean that it was bad…it’s just that I was expecting a five-star and I gave it three stars on Goodreads. Although it wasn’t all that I had hoped for, I still gleaned some good thoughts from it. Here’s the description from Amazon:

Do you ever long for days full of joy and energy—days that bring out the best version of you rather than leave you exhausted? Do you sometimes catch yourself wishing life was more impactful and fulfilling? In a world that’s moving so fast, it’s easy to lose your sense of purpose. So now is the time to make each moment of your ordinary, everyday, beautiful existence count. It’s time to own your life.
Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life is a breath of fresh air into the life and soul of a busy woman. Like a faithful friend, Sally journeys with you to explore what it means to live meaningfully, follow God truly, and bring much-needed order to your chaos. Each page offers deeply personal, authentic, and practical guidance to help you build an intentional life. Discover what it means to own your life, and dare to trust God’s hands as He richly shapes your character, family, work, and soul.

Running Free by Kate Allatt is about a young woman who suffered a massive stroke which resulted in a condition called “locked-in syndrome”, a condition in which she remained for several months. Although I didn’t think the writing itself was so great, I did find it fascinating and heart-breaking to imagine what it must be like to be “locked in” your own body, unable to communicate with the world around you. I gave this book three stars on Goodreads.

Can you imagine being trapped inside your own body? Able to see and hear everything going on around you but unable to move or speak – the blink of an eye your only way of communicating. Fell-runner and fun-loving mother-of-three Kate Allatt’s life was torn apart when what appeared to be a stress-related headache exploded into a massive brainstem stroke leading to locked-in syndrome. Totally paralysed, she became a prisoner inside her own body. Doctors warned her family she would never walk, talk or swallow or lead a normal life again. But they didn’t know Kate. The words no and never were not in her vocabulary. With the help of her best friends and family she drew on every ounce of her runner’s stamina and determination to make a recovery that amazed medical experts. Using a letter chart, Kate blinked the words “I will walk again”. Soon she was moving her thumb and communicating with the world via Facebook. Eight months after her stroke, Kate said goodbye to nurses, walked out of hospital and returned home to learn how to run again. This is the story of her incredible journey. (from Amazon)

In June, I read two more books:

Five Days At Memorial by Sheri Fink is a nonfiction book about five days in a New Orleans hospital during the time of hurricane Katrina. I found this book very interesting from a medical point of view. As a nurse myself, I can’t even imagine trying to care for patients in such horrendous circumstances. Although I really enjoyed the premise of the book and being able to take a peek into such a catastrophic event, I felt like the author was way too detailed and sometimes seemed to repeat some things. She also jumped around a bit in the story, making it difficult to follow at times. For these reasons, I gave the book three stars. (I probably would have given it 3.5 stars, but I don’t think you can give 1/2 stars on Goodreads. 🙂 )

Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina – and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice.
In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs 5 days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amid chaos.
After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.
Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.
In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are in America for the impact of large-scale disasters—and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis. (from Amazon)

Book number two for June was The Lake House by Kate Morton. This was my first book by this author and I really enjoyed it. The story is a mystery that takes place in England. It’s told from the vantage point of two different time periods, so it jumps back and forth in time. It’s a long book, just over 600 pages. For some reason it took me a little while to really get into the story, but once I did it moved pretty quickly. I rated it four stars on Goodreads.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories.
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever. (from Amazon)

July was my best month for reading…I read four books!

My first book was Audacious by Beth Moore. This was a quick read but, like all of Beth’s books, had a powerful message! One of my favorite quotes from this book is “He (Jesus) does not dispense grace with an eyedropper. He drenches us with it. He does not offer bare existence. He extends life abounding in blessing, power, passion, and purpose. If people told you God was stingy, they didn’t know their Bible.” Isn’t that a great quote?? I gave this book four stars.

Thirty years in the making, Audacious is a deep dive into the message that has compelled Beth Moore to serve women around the globe. Glancing over the years of ministry behind her and strengthening her resolve to the call before her, she came to the realization that her vision for women was incomplete. It lacked something they were aching for. Something Jesus was longing for. Beth identifies that missing link by digging through Scripture, unearthing life experiences, and spotlighting a turning point with the capacity to infuse any life with holy passion and purpose. What was missing? Well, let’s just say, it’s audacious and it’s for all of us. And it’s the path to the life you were born to live. (from Amazon)

My second book in July was The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore. I enjoyed this book…nothing amazing, just a light, interesting, quick-reading novel. I gave it a Goodreads rating of three stars.

Emmalee Bullard and her new baby are on their own. Or so she thinks, until Leona Lane, the older seamstress who sat by her side at the local shirt factory where both women worked as collar makers, insists Emmalee come and live with her. Just as Emmalee prepares to escape her hardscrabble life in Red Chert holler, Leona dies tragically. Grief-stricken, Emmalee decides she’ll make Leona’s burying dress, but there are plenty of people who don’t think the unmarried Emmalee should design a dress for a Christian woman – or care for a child on her own. But with every stitch, Emmalee struggles to do what is right for her daughter and to honor Leona the best way she can, finding unlikely support among an indomitable group of seamstresses and the town’s funeral director. In a moving tale exploring Southern spirit and camaraderie among working women, a young mother will compel a town to become a community. (from Amazon)

Book number three was Nobody’s Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle. This was a cute, funny book about the friendships of women. I have read one other book by this same author…Sparkly Green Earrings…and I liked it too! I love Melanie’s sense of humor and found myself often laughing out loud! Definitely a fun book! If I could have, I would have given this book four stars. But again, Goodreads doesn’t allow half stars and I reserve five stars for books I really, really love!

There is nothing as precious in life as a friend who knows you and loves you in spite of yourself. Yet over the last couple of decades, we’ve substituted the joy of real friendship with cheap imitations. We settle for “community” on Facebook and Twitter and a series of text messages that allow us to communicate with someone without the commitment. We like each other’s beautifully filtered photos on Instagram and delude ourselves into believing we have a community. But real friendship requires effort. It’s showing up, laughing loud, and crying hard. It’s forgiving and loving and giving the benefit of the doubt. It’s making a casserole, doing a carpool pickup, and making sure she knows those cute shoes are 50 percent off. Written in the same comedic style as the New York Times bestsellers Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room, Nobody’s Cuter than You is a laugh-out-loud look at the special bond that exists between friends and a poignant celebration of all the extraordinary people God had the good sense to bring into our lives at exactly the right moments. From the friendships we develop over a lifetime to the ones that wounded us and the ones that taught us to love better, Melanie Shankle reveals the influence our friends have on who we were, who we are, and who we will become. And on a day when our jeans feel too tight, our chins have decided to embrace hormone-related acne reminiscent of our teen years, and our kids have tested the limits of our sanity, they are the ones who will look at us and say, “Nobody’s cuter than you!” (from Amazon)

My last book for July was Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews. This is a very short book about time management. Even though it was short, it had some great ideas and quotes. This is my favorite quote: “Think ahead, break down your goals into bite-size chunks, incorporate them into your schedule today and over time, you’ll accomplish what you’ve set out to do. But it’s not enough to simply ask yourself what things you’d like to accomplish next week, next year, or in ten years (although those are certainly important). Instead, ask yourself what kind of person you want to be. Where do you want to make a difference? How do you want to be known and remembered? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? The answers to these questions reveal your true priorities.” Even if I had not gotten anything else out of the book, it was worth it for this one quote! I gave it three stars on Goodreads. (FYI..I think this book is only available in Kindle form.)

So, those are the books I have read over the last few months. If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to hear your thoughts about them. And as always, if you have any book recommendations I’d love to hear them! Happy Reading!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

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Where Has The Time Gone??

I can hardly believe that we are well into the month of August! Did your summer seem to go by as quickly as mine?? I haven’t put up a blog post in quite a while and several people have asked how we are doing and what we’ve been up to. So here’s a quick recap of the highlights of our summer.

MAY
For those of you that have been following my kidney stone saga, you know that I ended up in the ER in Charlotte, NC the beginning of April. A CT scan showed “several good size stones”. I must have passed the smaller stones and seemed to be doing okay for several weeks, until the pain hit again and I was back in the ER the day afer Memorial Day. It was determined that I had a stone that was too big to pass, so I had surgery to have it removed. It took me a few days to get back to “normal”, but have felt great since! Not the start to summer that I had planned….but then again we don’t always get to plan. 🙂

JUNE
I had the opportunity to go with a friend to see Christine Caine and Kari Jobe in their Living Unashamed tour. Christine is such a powerful and inspirational speaker. And I love, love, love Kari Jobe’s music! It was a great night!

This summer Katie again worked at Winshape Camps, but this time she worked at the new location in Cohutta Springs. This camp is only for high school girls. On one of Katie’s off weekends Emilie, Jacob and I went up to visit her and then we stayed a couple of nights in Chattanooga. That was the closest thing to a family vacation that we were able to get this summer!

Cohutta Springs is beautiful!!

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Closing Ceremony
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Point Park in Chattanooga
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Starbucks on Lookout Mountain

Starbucks on Lookout Mountain

We enjoyed Raccoon Mountain Caverns

We enjoyed Raccoon Mountain Caverns

A trip to Chattanooga is not complete without a stop at Clumpies!

A trip to Chattanooga is not complete without a stop at Clumpies!

July
Katie started her new job at Point University! She’s staying really busy, but seems to be enjoying it.

We kept my 18 month old nephew for 10 days! It was a lot of fun and, as I was quickly reminded, a lot of work! He did great and it was a joy to have him with us. Somehow I managed to get ZERO pictures. 😦

Jake spent 2 weeks at Winshape Camps again this year and had a great time, as usual! Unfortunately, I didn’t get any good pictures of him. This was his last year to be able to go, but he is already talking about wanting to return as a camp counselor!

I spent a couple of nights in Blue Ridge with some friends and we had a fun, relaxing get-away!
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I went with my discipleship group to see Hillsong United and Lauren Daigle. Unfortunately, because of having to wait forever to get into the parking lot, we missed Lauren Daigle. And the weather was horrible and we were drenched before we ever got to our seats. But it was still fun and Hillsong was great!

Before we got out of the car and got drenched!

Before we got out of the car and got drenched!

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Emilie’s 21st birthday was in June, but we celebrated in July with a trip to Hilton Head!

Lunch at the Salty Dog
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So, that’s what we’ve been up to! Hope your summer has been a good one! And now, here we are already in August! Next week Emilie begins classes at West Georgia and Jake will be back at Point University! I’m looking forward to a little more routine and a lot cooler weather!!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

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