Books · writing

I’d Rather Be Reading (or writing or anything that isn’t dishes)

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When we moved into our “new” house, one of our friends hefted one of the (many) boxes of books and told me if he’d have known this was the gig, he’d have bought us all Kindles.

No thanks.

I don’t know you about you, but I have strong feelings about books in hand, books on my shelves, books stacked two deep on windowsills, and accruing library fines because I haven’t written down all my favorite quotes yet and can’t bear to take it back. (I promise I’m returning Guernsey … next week.)

I’d love to know how books–even if they’re downloaded by the hundreds to your device (to each his own) or arranged alphabetically or carefully curated to match your decor–affect your life?

Are books a must-have? A luxury? A compliment? As necessary as strong coffee and good wine?

What are your favorites? Which ones are you ashamed you haven’t read? What did you hate–but still value? What did you hate and regret the money, time, or energy lost? What do you love but never admit? What do you pretend to love so you look smarter?

I’ll tell you mine if you’ll tell me yours. All this week I’m sharing book love in my Instagram feed and stories (@lindseypbrackett). The books that stir me, save me, challenge me, and gut me.

The kind of books I’d write about in my own collection of bookish essays. But I haven’t written that yet so instead I’ll just have to give away a copy of I’d Rather Be Reading!

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A few years ago, just as I came out of the fog of young motherhood and began to wonder how, exactly, one became a writer, I found Anne Bogel, aka Modern Mrs. Darcy. She was a reader. And a writer. And a unique lifestyle enthusiast.

She was a breath of fresh air in my feed and inbox and oh my gosh, the book recommendations. Girl knows her story. And plenty of others. But I think I was sold on this little fact she doesn’t make her platform–she’s a busy mother of four kids. She’s homeschooled and private schooled and public schooled and all the in-betweens. Her words felt like the cry of my heart for learning and literature–among the laundry and meal prep and motherhood.

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Her new book, I’d Rather Be Reading, releases TODAY! You can snag it from your favorite online retailer, indie bookstore, or big chain. You can order it on Audible (read by Anne herself). You can request your library add it to their collection.

You can win a copy over on Instagram by following (and engaging) with my posts this week because I absolutely can’t wait to share this book with y’all. And I really can’t wait to meet Anne Bogel in person at The Story Shop in Monroe, Georgia on September 11!

Just call me fangirl.

If you sign up for my newsletter, Just Write Life, you’ll be entered for ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN a copy of I’d Rather Be Reading and you’ll get a monthly installment from me with writerly-bookish-helpful things like recipes, reading suggestions, and quick listen podcasts. I’d love to know how I can help you find more time for the creative life among your everyday ordinary.

Until then, happy reading!

 

P.S. Don’t forget, sweet readers, I want to talk all things bookish with you on Instagram this week, so follow me over there or leave me a note right here in the comments, and I’ll give you a shout out (and an extra entry to win).

 

 

 

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Books · family · linkups · motherhood

Raising Grateful Kids (review and promise)

The very thing most parents long to give their kids— a grateful heart—is destroyed in our attempt to simultaneously give them the worldOn a rainy December Monday just before Christmas, I spent my “work hours” in the waiting room of a Honda dealership getting our infamous 2004 Odyssey fixed of all the recalls that had filled up our mailbox. And I told them to figure out what was wrong with our doors, change the oil, and give it a general inspection.

Needless to say, this was an all day process. Luckily my mom came to my rescue and we Christmas shopped and went out to lunch. Smack dab in the middle of my Panera Autumn Squash bread bowl, the service department called. All those recalls—airbags and starter switches—fixed free of charge. But they’d evaluated all our other… issues and those came with a $2500 price tag.

For a van they’d give us $500 on trade-in value.

We almost bought a new vehicle that afternoon. I had that moment of “this-is-ridiculous-and-it’s-not-safe” followed by the overwhelming truth: I really, really want a new van.

And I don’t want one because of the work this one needs (which we actually are getting done in stages for half the price at local mechanic shop). I want a new van for one primary reason—the recall I most want fixed, Honda won’t honor. The peeling paint.

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That’s a cosmetic issue. Not a safety factor.

My friends joke how much they love our van—they always know it’s me! And while I truly don’t believe anyone who knows and loves us judges us, I still have to swallow a whole heaping mouthful of pride every Sunday I park in the lot beside much nicer and shinier and newer vehicles. At Ingles, I duck my head in shame and make sarcastic comments about Honda when the bag boys bring out my groceries. I beat others to the punch when giving directions to our house—just pull in the drive with the paint peeling van!

Clearly, I’m really, really bothered by this. And I could raise my voice and shake my fist and fight a fight with corporates who don’t care (because I’ve tried); I can rage against God how unfair it is I always manage to pick the lemon of the group; I could just throw down the tax return on a new paint job and be done. But I won’t get to go to the beach this year or make another dent in our debt.

Truth is, while we do need a new van, it’s not a dire need. We can drive this one (and we intend to for one more year while we save). I can be grateful that it gets us everywhere we need to go, and I’m not devastated when Gus pokes a hole in his Chic-fil-A cup full of Sprite on the way home. (Seriously, every single time.)

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So one of those kids isn’t mine. But this van is big enough for all of mine plus a couple extras. And this is Gus just before he spiked a fever. Fun times.

But I’m convinced I’m entitled to a new van because this one, to be honest, just makes me look bad. And I’m so tired of looking bad.

Then my daughter tells me she needs new jeans. Because she only has one pair of jeggings and she needs more. Oh, and her shirts aren’t cute and can she go to camp this summer and when is she getting a new bike?

But she doesn’t actually need any of this. Which is what I say.

And you don’t need a new van, whispers that still small voice. I know what you need and when you need it, and I promise I will provide.

Unless my pride gets in the way first.

This last month, I joined with over 300 other bloggers and people of influence to read and generate interest in Kristen Welch’s new book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. To be honest, I had to walk away from it early on because of this:

Entitlement didn’t start with my kids. It began with me. I entitled them because I was entitled. (p. 10)

Ouch.

Truth is, I can’t raise my kids to be something I’m not and grateful probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when people describe me.

I complain. A lot.

I gripe. A lot.

I want things. A LOT.

But I have everything I need.

What I love most about Kristen’s voice in this book is how real she gets. She relates their mistakes and failures along with their successes and she humbles herself over and over to say, she knows she’s not always getting it right–but she knows there’s a better way.

There’s a better way to raise our kids than to just give them the world. Because this world is temporary and it is not our home. This world is harsh and it is not forgiving. This world is broken and we are called to heal.

And gratefulness starts the same place as entitlement–in my home, with me.

So that’s my review and here’s my promise:

If you buy this book, Kristen’s not going to tell you how to fix your kids. She’s going to give you some words to ponder and apply to yourself first. Then, when you’re ready she’ll give you some practical advice that will help you raise grateful kids and your own grateful heart.

I promise you won’t feel the same after.

If you read it (you can get it here on Amazon of course!), drop me a line! I’ll be posting some more thoughts with #raisinggratefulkids on my Facebook page. I’d love to have you join in the convo there, a little mini-book club for the late winter blahs…

and the days when raising kids is hard, hard, hard!

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Books · ePantry · faith · family · just write life · reflections · resolutions

Personality Tests, Surrender, and Dear Mr. Knightley

Why, yes that is a new header and logo.

Thank you to my sweet friend Merideth who blesses me with her talent.

Lately, I’ve been learning a few things about myself. Back in the spring the Splickety staff used the test at 16Personalities to discuss how different–and alike–we all are. I’ve realized for awhile now (pretty much ever since I became a mom) that I walk a line between extravert and introvert and this examination of my personality was pretty spot on.

According to the test, I’m an ENFP-T (the Campaigner)–really? I don’t much feel like a campaigner, but I am these things:

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There might be emphasis on turbulent.

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This is my family. All my sisters and our one brother. And Jasper, the golden retriever. Because when parents of 7 kids become empty nesters, they need a dog who’s treated like a child.

The analysis says people with my personality type “tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected… through a prism of emotion, compassion and mysticism, and are always looking for a deeper meaning.”

Well, that’s pretty true. I dug pomegranate arils out the other day for a salad and then wrote a story describing it that was about more than just pomegranates.

“ENFPs will bring an energy that oftentimes thrusts them into the spotlight, held up by their peers as a leader and a guru – but this isn’t always where independence-loving ENFPs want to be. Worse still if they find themselves beset by the administrative tasks and routine maintenance that can accompany a leadership position.”

Ha, I don’t see myself as a ‘guru’ at anything but sometimes I think others do. At least the people who don’t see me falling apart as a wife and mom on a regular basis are always asking for my advice and opinion and help, especially now that I’m a published and contracted writer. I type that and then figure I sound like a snob. Trust me, I know very little but I am always happy to share that little. I have to humble myself everyday, especially when I edit, and google questions like, “In fiction should numbers be written out?” (Yes, in dialogue especially.)

My favorite part of that description is the part about “administrative tasks”. Please keep those away from me. The paperwork, data, charts, analysis–that’s what I hated about teaching. Just let me read books and lead discussions, already. The decision making and final calling–what I wasn’t good at when I coordinated MOPS. Just let me connect with moms. The find a cute image, schedule posts, and dissect page views of platform building? Ugh, I write 500 words and wish that was enough.

It’s nice to be validated. To realize that there’s nothing wrong with me for not being good at/enjoying those tasks. I just enjoy other tasks more. And I struggle with these time consumers because while I didn’t always find my strengths to be exact in this study, the weaknesses… well, those were unfortunately true.

ENFP personalities tend to have poor practical skills, difficulty focusing, overthink everything, get stressed easily, are highly emotional, and fiercely independent.

Ouch.

But the beauty of having your weaknesses pointed out (and mine have been shown to me with this test and the loving words of some kind friends) is that when I’m aware these are my tendencies, I can make a conscious effort to recognize when I’m being a crazed, anxious, difficult person and step back to examine the why. Which is helping me do something I’ve never done before–say no and guard the time I need. Because while I might have tipped the scales toward extravert, I also know the introvert rises up everyday and needs a little time of withdrawal.

That’s why I get up early and sit in the dim light and drink my first cup of coffee without a three year old baby in my lap. Then I study.

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Obviously this was not an early morning. But it was wedding morning.

Ever wonder what a personality test would say about Jesus? It’s comforting to me when I realize He too was misunderstood by those closest to him. In Mark 4, he’s teaching so many parables and then takes his disciples alone and aside and explains the deeper meaning, yet, still when they cross the Sea of Galilee that night and the storm blows up and He rebukes the waves they ask—”Who is this man?”

They didn’t really know him, not yet.

I’m paging though My Utmost for His Highest for probably the fifth time and this line yesterday, “We can only be used by God after we allow Him to show us the deep, hidden areas of our own character.” It’s when we see our own shortcomings that we can surrender to grace. I’m not so good at that (ahem, independent is another word for likes-to-do-things-my-own-way). Chambers goes on to say it is our pride that holds us back from understanding Christ’s work in us.

But I want to understand. So I’ve lain down a list that’s between me and Jesus of those areas in which I don’t surrender. Maybe you have one too? And maybe instead of being consumed with how others perceive me–or how I perceive myself–I can become consumed with knowing and understanding God so He can work in me—conform me to His image.

And speaking of surrender, that’s a major theme in Katherine Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightley which I finished just the other day.

Loved Dear Mr. Knightley—talk about introspective. Sam’s journey from hidden to found is delicate and though she appears fragile, we discover she’s a steel magnolia (trapped in Chicago). I learned I don’t really know Austen, so I’m adding Emma to my list (might read with Madelynne) and definitely Jane Eyre for a Bronte fix. This story is told in letters, which is unique, and at first I wondered how we’d really get the tale, but then I got lost in the first person narration. My only complaint was that she had to come out of it at the end (for justifiable and necessary reasons) but I hated losing Sam’s voice at that moment. Took me a few pages to feel we were still in her head. Which, the writer in me knows, is the trick of third person deep POV. Harder than one would imagine. So get this one if you like a good romance (not steamy but slow and savory) and appreciate good literature. Yes, I realize I just made romance sound like pot roast. But that’s the kind of story this is—wholesome and filling.

Oh, and if you’re interested I’m venturing over to Goodreads, so you can find me there if you want to talk books.

One more thing!

You can get some these goodies for free this week over at ePantry. I love ePantry. They send me items that make my daughter say, “I like to clean with the good-smelling spray.” Win-win.

She’s talking about that Meyer’s Multi-purpose spray. Favorite cleaning product EVER. I use it on everything and worry about nothing.

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The sweethearts at ePantry (y’all they write me handwritten notes) will send you a free Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning kit with a $20 purchase. To make it super simple, they’ll suggest a basket for you based on your answers to four simple questions. You can add/delete as you want/need but this is the easiest, cheapest, funnest way to freshen your January house. Just go here to sign up or here if you’re an existing customer. They’ll take care of the rest.

For example:

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Enjoy! I know I do, especially when the kids are cleaning and I’m reading. Sure, sometimes that happens.

What are you reading? Learning? Studying?

Linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee and the #TellHisStory crew today.

 

Books · resolutions · Uncategorized

Why (and How) I’m Reading 60 Books in 2016

This morning our normal routine finally resurfaced. Everyone went to school and this mom used her Starbucks gift card and holed up in a cold corner of the local Ingles. (If your grocery store does not have a Starbucks, I am very sorry.)

There was a man across the way, a big hulking biker looking man who is actually a really nice guy. I think he works in the meat department. Anyway, he was tucked away in the corner himself, on his break, reading.

Not on Facebook. Not mindlessly staring. Not talking too loudly on his cellphone. But reading a fantasy novel–as in actual paperback book–and  my writer’s heart sang.

Print’s not dead. Not by a long shot.

Of course print might mean Kindle or iBook and I won’t judge you if I see you scrolling on your phone (because I’ve got a big ‘ol finger pointing right back at me and my social media apps), but for me, there’s just something about a book I can hold in my hands. Which probably explains why I’m choosing a traditional publisher over self-publishing for my first novel.  This year will be a year of work and sweat and tears as I bleed again and again over that story (and the ones to come after), but this time next year? I’ll be able to hold a real book in my hands.

But in the meantime, as I pray and list and plan and wait for some revelation as to which project I should pour into next, I’m reading. A lot.

Sixty books in twelve months. Five in one month. More than one a week, my husband pointed out. Maybe you read more than that in a year? I’ve never tracked my consumption of novels and non-fiction, but this year I am. Because this year, I’m making intentional choices to do what I’ve always said I’m going to do.

And that includes reading books I’ve been saying I want to read.

There’s a shelf in my room that’s full because my mom retired and reads voraciously and then stacks books on my kitchen table with admonishments that I better love it. There’s a wish list on Amazon that frightens my husband with its one-clickability. There are author’s names that are becoming names of colleagues as I delve into publishing. There’s that number one tip for how to write better: READ more.

So I am. So I will. And wonder of wonders–I think you all want to as well. When I posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook of my stack stacking up, I received so many responses I started a group.

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60 in 2016.

That’s it. Nothing too catchy. Nothing too hard. Read whatever you want. The point is–read the story or the information or the opinion that’s found its way between two covers while you’re snuggled under yours.

My Monthly Five:

  1. A book I’ve been wanting to read. (Cannot wait to crack open Dear Mr. Knightly which I scored off the clearance shelf at a LifeWay bookstore in December.)
  2. A book I ‘should’ have already read. (Just finished Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.)
  3. A book that betters my heart and soul. (This month that’s Restless by Jeannie Allan–might bleed into February though because I’m also on the launch team for Kristen Welch’s Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World and it is SO good.)
  4. A book that develops my craft. (For me, that’s writing. Haven’t settled on this one just yet, but probably The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke.)
  5. A book that’s a current bestseller or new release. (This covers my book club’s choices, but since this month we chose Go Set a Watchman and I’ve already read that, I devoured Gone Girl. In three days.)

What are you reading and how much do you think you read in a year? Join the conversation and let me know if you want to take the #60booksin2016 challenge.