the 2012 book list

All the books I finished this year, plus statistics and my top 5 list. Asterisk means I’ve read it before. Here goes!

January 4: Henry Cloud & John Townsend, Boundaries (started in 2011)
January 9: Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter
January 10: Andrew Peterson, The Monster In the Hollows
*January 21: Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb
January 22: Noel Piper, Treasuring God in Our Traditions
January 28: Walter Wangerin, Jr., Letters From the Land of Cancer
February 12: Paul David Tripp, Instruments In the Redeemer’s Hands
*February 21: C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
April 16: Michael Ward, The Narnia Code
April 20: David Maine, The Preservationist
April 27: Shauna James Ahern, Gluten-Free Girl
May 3: Tim Keller, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness
May 5: Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers
May 10: Louisa May Alcott, Little Men
May 15: Tim Keller, Generous Justice
May 17: John Green and David Levithan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson
May 18: Louisa May Alcott, Jo’s Boys
June 1: Gabrielle Hamilton, Blood, Bones, and Butter
June 5: Lauren Winner, Still
June 11: Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy
June 27: Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
June 30: Walter Wangerin, Jr., As For Me & My House
July 7: John Green, Paper Towns
*July 16: Francis Chan, Forgotten God
*July 23: Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
August 5: Melina Marchetta, Jellicoe Road
August 14: John Green, Looking For Alaska
*August 21: Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
August 30: Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters
August 30: C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
September 8: Walter Wangerin, Jr., Saint Julian
September 17: C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
September 26: Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
*September 29: Lauren Winner, Mudhouse Sabbath
October 3: John Green, An Abundance of Katherines
October 9: Bob Goff, Love Does
October 11: John Green, The Fault In Our Stars
October 22: Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code
*November 6: Tim and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
November 12: Stephen Altrogge, Create
*November 17: Lauren Winner, Girl Meets God
November 29: D.A. Carson, Scandalous
*November 30: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
December 5: Daniel Coyle, The Little Book of Talent
*December 15: Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word
*December 27: Lauren Winner, Real Sex
*December 28: David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
December 29: Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

* * *
total # read: 47.5
non-fiction read: 30.5
fiction read: 17
re-reads: 11
most read author: John Green, with 5. Runners-up are C.S. Lewis and Lauren Winner.

Top 10, in no particular order:
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
John Green, An Abundance of Katherines
C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code
Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers
Lauren Winner, Still
Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters
John Green, The Fault In Our Stars
Walter Wangerin, Jr., As For Me & My House
Andrew Peterson, The Monster in the Hollows

50 things: The year in review

1. My epic birthday at Ruggles Green and The Harp.
2. Cool Runnings and Jamaican food at Mayberry Manor.
3. My mom’s epic stint in the hospital.
4. “18 Wheels on a Big Rig”
5. Saying goodbye to Eric and Beth. 😦
6. “You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.”
7. “Guns don’t kill people–people with mustaches kill people.” — a bumper sticker I found at work and promptly gave to my mustachioed friend Chris, and which is now less funny post-Newtown
8. Singing together in my friends’ living room (and introducing some folks to songs from Jars of Clay’s first album).
9. All the messy crying on Pentecost…
10. My friends’ babies…so many babies…
11. Easter afternoon and evening on Lach and Kari’s back patio.
12. Comicpalooza.
13. Having a long conversation with Dena and Lauren about adoption instead of watching the Super Bowl.
14. Doing inventory at other stores.
15. My rather disappointing interaction with a potential employer that fell through…
16. My first academic conference in New Mexico–presenting my paper and getting good feedback, learning, getting dried out by the desert air, drinking a lot of coffee in the hotel lobby, watching Hugo by myself at the local theater.
17. Miscellaneous co-workers trying on hats I made for them.
18. Garner State Park: SO MUCH RAIN, hiking, sitting around the campfire and singing together, being together, the epic road trips up and back, the stars, exploring the river, the group photo that looks like Impero’s about to punch Chris in the stomach, the other car doing a Chinese fire drill (in which, ironically, the only person not participating was a Chinese person), lots of Apples to Apples.
19. Sitting around with the Westside CG at Caleb and Holly’s dining room table, playing with wind-up toys and making a small creature out of origami figures and a wine cork. (Don’t even ask.)
20. Steph moving to Dallas 😦 (And her going-away party at The Harp.)
21. New Braunfels/Gruene: Stopping 8000 times on the way up there, “BLACK COFFEE!”, “Men of Kaleo, please meet your party at the front,” The Gristmill, dancing at Gruene Hall, dancing in the kitchen, dancing in the living room, Bananagrams, tipsy spoons, floating the river, miscellaneous injuries, meeting our brethren at Gospel Life Church, lying in the driveway with Meagan and seeing a singular meteor.
22. The Olympics!
23. First Friday Food Truck Fests at the Montrose HEB.
24. Finally saying “yes” to going to seminary. 😀
25. Miscellaneous gatherings at Ruggles Green in City Centre
26. The Dark Knight Rises with Steph, Shannon, and Lauren.
28. The Romeros’ house fire.
29. The Stregers adopted a kid! And he is adorable!
30. The “hey girl” photo of Jack.
31.*Not* merging with BCBC.
32. Lach getting chased by bees at the church anniversary picnic.
33. The “TOO FAR” sign at work (more necessary than you would think).
34. Colorado Bend: Cara’s newfound phobia of sticker burrs, the hike, the falls, the cave, hanging my head out of the side window of the Mullens’ Land Rover like a dog, all the photos, s’mores, Post-Apocalyptic Candy Land, sitting around the campfire singing and talking, the three deer by the toilet, freezing our butts off, epic breakfasts, SO MUCH COFFEE
35. Band rehearsals.
36. Hearing my friends sing glorious music in a Houston cathedral.
37. Being in the side room at the Y during the annual shellacking of the gym floor and getting a little choked up during “In Christ Alone”.
38. The HPB Christmas party at County Line.
39. Ice cream with Matt, Meagan, and Dena after church.
40. Making wreaths and watching Doctor Who with Steph.
41. Moving Meagan and Megan into their new place.
42. Listening to Sigh No More on vinyl in Lach and Kari’s living room before band practice.
43. Standing around with a bunch of my coworkers and some significant others in Kendricx’s kitchen at Claudia’s birthday party.
44. Running commentary with Chris while watching The Hobbit. “You think that ring’s important?” “No.”
45. Writing cards at Panera.
46. The Brilliance/Gungor concert.
47. The Behold the Lamb of God concert (and the epic drive down there with Meagan).
48. Randomly running into Lauren at Memorial City Mall while she was on her lunch break.
49. Conversations everywhere: In cars, in living rooms, in the Y after church, in restaurants, around campfires, in tents, in streets, behind the buy counter at work, in the break room, in movie theaters…
50. Getting caught up in the Story over and over again…

What I want in 2013.

To take better care of my body (and therefore, in many ways, my soul).

Less cynicism and more hope and joy.

More connection with people, especially ones I haven’t seen in a while.

More quiet. More focus.

Being outdoors more.

Less consumption and more education and doing and giving.

Bring it on.

coventry carol

Lully, thou little tiny child
By, by, lully, lullay…

In the Middle Ages, people would get together and act out Bible stories. Every town had a particular story to tell. Coventry, in the middle of England, played out Matthew 2, the coming of Jesus, the arrival of the magi–and the lesser-told story of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents. We don’t have much left of the play, except for one carol, one we don’t sing much around this time of year.

Oh, sisters, too, how may we do
For to preserve this day?

It’s written as a minor-key lullaby, the kind of song a mom sings to her little kids as they’re drifting into sleep. But it speaks of tragedy, of a massacre, all done in the name of the world’s evil powers as they tried to destroy the Son of God. They will sleep, yes, but “in that sleep of death, what dreams may come?” Their little lives are cut short unjustly, unfairly.

I wonder how many mothers in Bethlehem, in the wake of that, wondered why God had left them behind. I wonder how many mothers in Coventry, who had probably lost children to disease and just the hardness of life, heard that carol and wondered the same.

Then woe is me, poor child for thee
And ever mourn and stay…

There are some who say that this is, in fact, a lullaby from a mother to her child–the theory is that the singer is not just any Rachel mourning for her children, but Mary to her oldest Son. She knew what had happened, I’d wager, and grieved for those women. But moreso, I think she might have known what would happen thirty-odd years from that day, too. Her Boy, too, would be slaughtered under the darkness of the world, for our darkness, to bring light.

I’m not going to pretend to have answers about why what happened in Connecticut last Friday happened. Who can know why God allows innocent people to die, much less little kids. I do know this, though: Mental illness, easy access to guns, whatever–these are just the symptoms of a deeper problem that we can’t fix. And I also know that they are no match for a God who came and entered into our suffering with us. When God does one thing, I believe, He is doing a thousand things, and somehow I believe He will work this out for the good of those who love Him. I don’t know how or why. But He will.

“far beyond the misty mountains cold…”

I’m listening to the soundtrack for The Hobbit. There’s one track on here that’s all the dwarves singing together (whence the title of this post), and there are few things that make me happier than hearing a bunch of men singing together. I am so excited about this movie.

Just so you know, I have an online Advent calendar of sorts going at this Tumblr. We’re already a few days into the season, but there’s still plenty of time before Christmas, of course.

I wish, as I’ve been wishing for a very long time now, that I had something more substantial to say. Back in college, when I was in the habit of writing more, I think I had a lot more to say, or at least better ways of saying it. These days, I mostly lament the fact that it feels like my writing voice is gone–and in truth, I know it’s because I’m out of practice, out of habit, not willing to put in the actual drudgery of the writing and thinking process. This is a problem, much like other problems that could be fixed. Eventually. But these days, maybe I’m more concerned with the other bits and pieces of my life, these other fields I have to tend to. Soon, though, I will start planting again. More drafts, more tending to the soil. I miss being a writer. And thanks for continuing to read, if you’re reading.

still here, don’t worry.

Well! That was a bit of a stretch, wasn’t it? My thoughts have been atomized to various social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr…everywhere), so you might do better to follow me there these days, but here I am.

Last month, too, was my 10-year anniversary of being a blogger, which still blows my mind a little bit.

A few things I’ve been thinking about that aren’t substantial enough for a real post yet, but here you go:

a) How disconcerting it is that I’m having some intellectual doubts re: Christianity (and faith in general) even while I’m waiting to hear if I’ve been accepted to seminary, but how I keep soldiering on if for no other reason than I made a promise and I intend to keep it, Lord willing, because somewhere in me I still trust that the Lord will keep me.

b) How being busy is a weird form of sloth, in that it keeps me from dealing with a lot of things I should actually be doing instead.

c) How hilarious it would be if the world as we know it really did end on December 22.

d) All the year-end lists I like making–favorite songs, favorite moments, etc.

e) How much I want to go to the BBC Proms, mostly because of things like this:

f) How strange it is that I get teary-eyed at people in other countries showing off their patriotism.

g) Advent. The waiting–and how appropriate it is that I am feeling a little unsettled during this season. Come quickly, Lord!