Books I’m Most Thankful For This Year

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow! How’d that happen?

I LOVE seeing all the ‘what I’m thankful for’ blog posts. But ya’ll know how I like to put my own spin on things, so I picked out the books I was most thankful for this year for my Thanksgiving post because books make me happy–duh! 🙂 I picked out several novels across different genres  . . .  and because I also LOVE quotes, I picked out a few to go along with each pick.

The Book Thief: Historical Fiction

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

“It kills me sometimes, how people die.”

“Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.”

The Power of a Positive Mom: Nonfiction

“Focus on the hope in each person and every situation. God has not left you.”

“God allows certain unplanned adventures in our lives for reasons we may never know. He also provides the help we need to make it through.”

“Your kids are reading a book every day. Now wait a minute, you may be thinking, My kids aren’t even reading age yet. Or, My kids don’t like to read that much. Let me assure you, your kids are reading a book every day. The title is Life’s Living Lessons and you are the author. Our children are watching our actions and hearing our words every day. They are learning how to act and how to live as they read us. You are possibly the most influential book they will ever read.”

Clockwork Princess: Paranormal/Fantasy

“Sometimes one must choose whether to be kind or honorable,” he said. “Sometimes one cannot be both.”

“Life is a book, and there are a thousand pages I have not read. I would read them together with you, as many as I can, before I die -”
She put her hand against his chest, just over his heart, and felt its beat against her palm, a unique time signature that was all its own. “I only wish you would not speak of dying,” she said. “But even for that, yes, I know how you are with your words, and, Will- I love all of them. Every word you say. The silly ones, the mad ones, the beautiful ones, and the ones that are only for me. I love them, and I love you.”

“Gabriel’s green eyes sought Will. “It was demon pox, wasn’t it? You know all about it, don’t you? Aren’t you some sort of expert?”
“Well, you needn’t act as if I invented it,” said Will.”

Through the Ever Night: Dystopian

“Love was like the waves in the sea, gentle and good sometimes, rough and terrible at others, but that it was endless and stronger than the sky and earth and everything in between.”

“We lose and lose, but we’re still here.  Shaking in place, afraid of doing something.  I’m tired of settling for this because I don’t know if something better exists.  It has to.  What point is there otherwise?  I can do something about it now.  And I will.”

“Love is a rebellious bird that nobody can tame.”

Firefly Lane: Women’s Fiction

“That was the thing about best friends. Like sisters and mothers, they could piss you off and make you cry and break your heart, but in the end, when the chips were down, they were there, making you laugh even in your darkest hours. ”

“Thoughts – even fears – were airy things, formless until you made them solid with your voice and once given that weight, they could crush you.”

“Of course you can fall in love. You just have to let yourself. They don’t call it falling for nothing.”

Turtle in Paradise: Children’s Literature

“Everyone thinks children are sweet as Necco Wafers, but I’ve lived long enough to know the truth: kids are rotten. The only difference between grown-ups and kids is that grown-ups go to jail for murder. Kids get away with it.”

“Almost dying is awfully easy. It’s the living that’s hard.”

18 Things: Contemporary Coming of Age

*It may seem strange to pick my own book, but 1) I AM STRANGE! 2) It’s the one I’m most thankful for (outside of the Bible) because it reminds me of how far God has brought me to arrive at this place.

“Some days my grief only hurt a little, like being electrocuted by a tiny spark when plugging in something. Other days, my sorrow used a jackhammer to excavate my heart.”

“I can’t believe I spent most of high school stereotyping you as a simple-minded, snobby, backstabbing cheerleader.” Tammy took one last drag, then stomped out her cigarette on the ground. “Girl, neither can I. I mean I only stole your prom date, threatened to light you on fire, and slapped you in the face.”

“Dr. Judy crossed her arms over her chest. ‘There are no do-overs in life once you’re dead. All your friends have that YOLO saying backward. It should be YODO because really, you live ever day, but . . . You Only Die Once.’ I looked at Nate. A grim expression twisted his mouth and I wondered if he was thinking what I thought. Where’s the candid camera, because this had to be a joke.”

*What books are  you thankful for having read this year? Oh, you don’t all have to point to 18 Things at once 😉 HAPPY THANKSGIVING . . . or as it’s come to be known this year, The New Black Friday. Personally, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Dollar Tree is just up the street and keeps their prices at $1 allll year-long–right, kids?! Gobble, gobble!

Leaving My Comfort Zone and Awkward Middle School Photo

You might be facing a decision forcing you to choose between the easy and the adventurous. If so, this blog post is for you!

Sooo, a few months ago my pastor posted a pic on Facebook holding up my novel, 18 Things. Someone from my church, who I didn’t know, commented, “Who is this? I keep hearing about this book!” He responded, “It’s a local teacher who got a book published, who happens to attend our church and volunteer with the youth ministry.” She commented back she was going to read it, I thanked her, & that was the end of it . . . or so I thought.

She contacted me the following month (we still hadn’t met) & said her entire book club read 18 Things, loved it, & invited me to attend their meeting.  All the book club members were teachers at a middle school, which happened to be the same one I attended & even won the Language Arts award for our graduating class . . . which earned me the right to have my picture on the wall, and it was still there several years ago when I attended an event there. I’m curious to know if it’s still hanging now, and I’ll be able to check soon, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Awkward Middle School Photos

Awkward Middle School Photos

In May, Kelly (the lady from my church) asked me if I’d be interested in applying for a 7th grade Language Arts position opening up at the middle school. My initial reaction was YESSS! That quickly got overshadowed by all the potential dilemmas . . . I’ve taught elementary school for 12 years. I know the curriculum and the standards and everyone at my school family . . . my youngest kid still has 2 years left there & I’d have to pay for after school care for her if I switched . . . my oldest volunteers in my classroom & she’ll be sad she has to volunteer somewhere else (she goes next door to the middle school but volunteers for 2 hours in the morning first).  So I sighed heavily, said teaching my favorite subject at a new school to older students sounded nice, but I’ll just stay where I am for now. After all, it’s what I know. It’s where I’m comfortable.

So I let my feet tread easily on the well-worn path the rest of the school year, but the thought of teaching middle school kept nagging me in the back of my mind. But I had a sequel to finish. As soon as school ended at the end of May, I was writing 18 Truths. I gave myself a deadline of June 30th and by the 29th I’d emailed it to four Beta readers (Kelly included). Anyone who knows me well knows I can’t sit still for long. So of course, I immediately thought of that middle school job and looked at the county’s website for job openings and didn’t see it posted. I didn’t expect it to be since 6 weeks had passed, but I did see some other middle and high school Language Arts/English postings. By the time I went in for a school meeting the next morning, I made up my mind. I told my principal (who I also LOVE so much, which was another reason leaving my school was so difficult) I was going to seek another position, so she might get some calls. She said she understood, knew I wanted a change, and had a feeling I might switch schools after interviewing to take over the media specialist position at our school and not getting it *more on this later*

When I left school, I sent Kelly a text saying I was kicking myself for not saying yes earlier b/c I was now looking for a middle school job. She immediately called and said they hadn’t filled the spot yet b/c the school was in the middle of changing principal’s, and the interviews were being done the next day (Friday) and Monday morning. She called to see if they could fit me in, and the interview was soon set for Monday at 11:15a.m.

You want to know the COOLEST part?! I’m actually taking over for MY 7th grade Language Arts teacher! Mrs. Williams had a profound influence on me. I’m kinda back to being scared again b/c I have such HUGE shoes to fill.

What’s funny is I’m doing a Bible study with some of my elementary school co-workers titled The Power of a Positive Mom. You may recall this blog post where God used the book to speak to me while succumbing to depression over my book sales (which I’m happy to report have been up for some reason . . . trending in the top 100 for Coming of Age category for the past 2 weeks). Anyway, one of the assignments for the study was to read the story of Ruth in the Bible. Basically, the story boils down to choosing safety or surrendering to something different, trusting God has something better in mind for us if we’ll simply step out in faith. Staying where we are for too long brings very little fruitfulness in our lives. If you’re feeling vaguely depressed with life, then it may be you haven’t “gone” anywhere in a while.

Yesterday I packed up twelve years of elementary school stuff. I was crushed in April when I didn’t get the media specialist position at my school. Everyone thought for sure I was a shoo-in for the job. Funny thing is, when I went for my middle school interview, they were excited I had recently gotten my media specialist certification. It’s a position they’d cut and are very interested in bringing it back! Oh, and they’re also thinking of making 18 Things a required read for their “One Book One School” program this year, which I’ll also add was started by a dear lady named Polly who attended my church, but sadly passed away from breast cancer a few years ago. Interesting how God tied that all together, isn’t it?

“Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”–Philip Yancey

So, what about you, dear friends? Have you ever encountered a divine intervention in a new plan for your life? Where it seemed like one looong string of coincidences was actually God leading you to a bold adventure?

Also, who do you think my friend is talking to on the phone in my awkward middle school photo? I think she’s probably saying, “HELP! There’s a tiger and bear in the room and my friend showed up for picture day with a hairdo that totally says D-O-R-K!!!”

Yep, some things never stay the same 😉