Monday, December 31, 2018

Best of 2018

M'kay, so before reading this post, how about making yourself a big cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows? Find a comfy recliner. Wrap yourself up in a cozy fleece blanket. Grab a pair of headphones.

Perfect. Now you can browse to your heart's content.

Today is one of those last, delightfully cozy days before we say goodbye. This time of year can be incredibly comforting in the slow, lazy pace of post-holiday vacation. It can also be a little emotionally heavy for some as they face the weight of processing a year gone and a year to come.

But today we lift up our cup of hope for the new year. For we hold the hand of the God of hope, the Father who does not forsake his people. We are not alone.

This is a post I always enjoy creating on My Lady Bibliophile. It's the end of year wrap-up, but it gives me an excuse to pull up a plethora of old blog posts, browse through them, and remember what topics we journeyed through this last year. I've pulled out some favorite articles (they truly are close to my heart) and top book and movie reviews of the last year. I hope you enjoy going back through them. They truly are food for the soul. Also, don't miss the top picks for fiction, nonfiction, and author of the year down below!

I'd love to know what your favorite books and movies were of 2018. Also, did you have a favorite article about books or writing (here or elsewhere)? I'd love to read it! Pop a link in the comments. Let's celebrate the year together!

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Best Of: Articles

The Olympics Come to Avonlea
Love Which Expands
Halfway Into Memory
Life in Tears
Frost on the Moon 
Using a Gay Character for a Good Conversation
Of Love and October 
The Joy and Fear of New
Dear 23: My Cup of Thanksgiving

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Best Of: Book/Movie Reviews

My Heart Belongs In Niagara Falls, New York
Revenge of the Sith 
The Silver Chair: Minky Blankets and Discipline and Joy
The Greatest Showman
Crowning Heaven/The Electrical Menagerie 
Sofi Snow series
I Have Learned {summer mini reviews}
The Last Battle: Of Aslan and Remembrance
Why I Spent $100 on Books This Quarter 

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Best Of: Music 

One Thing --Tenth Avenue North {breaking my heart to make it new}
I Confess --Tenth Avenue North  {see above}
I'll Find You --Lecrae/Torri Kelly {sung at CityFest 2018 to stop suicide}
The Greatest Showman Soundtrack  {you were the best writing music ever. the flame to my fuel. the grin on my face}
*mild language in The Other Side
Burn the Ships album --For King and Country {thank you for being there. this whole year was captured in your music. i love your brave honesty}
Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack  {you kept me company on so many happy drives and writing sessions}
Canaan Bound --Andrew Peterson {the water of life set to music}
Soldier --Fleurie {jaeryn graham, if ever there was a song}
Is He Worthy? --Andrew Peterson {a song to turn to whenever i need to worship}
King of My Heart --Kutless {sung at the church i love}
King of Love --I AM THEY {our rejoicing anthem after Bible Bee 2018, hours before catching a GI bug}

Nonfiction of the Year

This is one of the watershed books (I read two this year) that have given me a vision for how to use my adult life well. If this can shape the next decades of my life, I would be glad.

Fiction of the Year

It came down to a fight between The Silver Chair and Boys of Blur, by N.D. Wilson, so they both technically deserve first place. But The Silver Chair won because it was such a joyous journey of re-discovery full of beauty. And Aslan's theme of discipline and affirmation in Jill's journey (see the review linked in the Book Reviews above) brought joy to my heart. 

Author of the Year 

This year I discovered Kate DiCamillo for the first time, thanks to Annie Hawthorne. I read my first book of hers in January and read two more in October. Kate's ability to write for children with depth, authenticity, whimsy, and sympathy make her books not just good reads, but soul food. Her stories deeply understand and care for her audience. They teach love, forgiveness, and healing. Her deep love for children makes her books timeless for all audiences, and she's a delight to follow on Facebook. I am enchanted and heart-warmed by the light of her literary fire. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Finding a New Bible

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I turn on Canaan Bound, by Andrew Peterson. It is a drink that fills a thirst. Devotions were not plentiful the last of October, added to an overall feeling of yuck from a nasty cold. But I am finding my feet and opening my Bible again.

It's simple. I'm neither doubling up nor even getting all my BSF questions done. Open, read two chapters, read the bits of commentary on the side, and close again. But simple, when you have had nothing for a while, is good.

It has been a couple of weeks since I wrote the last two paragraphs, and again devotions have not been plentiful.

In the middle of struggling to blog and struggling to write, I am still struggling to open my Bible in the mornings. This fall has been a weird blank of teaching and travel and cough medicine. (I'm finally off of the latter.) Tuesday morning I cleaned my room and stacked up empty BSF lessons waiting to be returned to. Three nights ago I lay in bed and thought about what the blog had become and wondered if it would ever go back to regularity again. I had just found my brand--the way I wanted to write--when time itself was snatched away from me. It seems odd to finally find clarity and then have no way to exercise it.

I have no answers to this question. But in the midst of a strange fall season, I have found a new Bible to love.

Every month I get a list of review books available for request. I never really look at Bibles, but this time I glanced at the NKJV Ancient-Modern Bible from Thomas Nelson. I loved it as soon as I read the descriptions. Instead of study notes, the Ancient-Modern Bible contains commentary in the margins by respected men of God ranging from ancient times to modern day. I opened my Bible just now, and the pages contained commentary from C.S. Lewis, John Calvin, Chrysostom, and Charles Spurgeon. There are so many more besides these four. I've never seen study notes like these before, and I love it.

This Bible traveled with me to Texas earlier this month for my sister's Bible Bee competition. I opened it to Psalm 116 after the end of brutal prayer vigils and a health fight over the course of her stay. (Nothing serious, but potentially devastating for the competition.) A friend introduced me to this psalm years ago. Now, it seemed the perfect passage to return thanks for fears averted and prayers answered. And that wasn't the only time this Bible kept me company. One morning as I was pulling out a BSF lesson on Psalm 139, Eugene Peterson's quote excerpt in the margins shaped my prayers for the day. It became a more honest prayer about the state of my heart than I might have prayed otherwise.

This Bible contains many features I know I'm going to enjoy over time. Thomas Nelson includes maps in the back, an index of church creeds, and a selection of Christian paintings through the ages. The inclusion of Makoto Fujimura's painting on one of the pages was another strong seller as I requested this Bible for review. I wish the paintings were full-page, but I will still enjoy looking through them properly in future and getting to know more artists. Also, each introduction to the books of the Bible has a handy key facts section on the top of the page for author, date, audience, purpose, and themes of the book. I really like having the key facts so accessible. They don't require wading through paragraphs of longer introductions to find.

I've reached for this Bible the most throughout this fall. I'm glad to finally have a New King James Bible (it's very readable) and love the commentary it includes. If you're looking for a Bible in this version or a Bible that will introduce you to some church history, Thomas Nelson's Ancient-Modern Bible is a fantastic one to choose. You can find it on Amazon here.

I received this Bible from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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