10 Summer Reads

It’s amazing, really, that considering all the books I’ve read, I haven’t already compiled any reading lists!  So, without further ado, I give you ten of my personal faves:

Top 10 Summer Reads to check out! Tweetable

1.  Hotel  on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. I highly recommend this book. I’m not the best critic, but I remember absolutely loving this one. Also, if you doubt my credibility, it’s a New York Times Bestseller. If you’ve been a reader of mine for any amount of time, you may have noted this fact: I’m a total nerd.   I’d honestly be somewhat surprised if you have not seen or heard of this title. It’s received a lot of attention from various newspapers, magazines and even schools. Bonus: it’s set in Seattle!

2.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Total classic. Ladies, I do hope you’ve indulged yourself in this book at some point in your life. If not, this book is for anyone.  I read it as a child, however, I’ve read it numerous times.

3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Twenty, thirty years down the road, I have no doubt people will still be talking about this story. If you’ve only seen the movie and you are wondering if the book is worth your time, let me be the first to tell you that it’d be a waste of time not to. Readers of historical fiction, inspiring characters, and Southern humor will adore this page-turner.

4.Packing Light: Thought on Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt. This book blew me away. The risks Allison  took in her book to make this grand adventure happen, has significantly encouraged me to see risks as opportunities, and not scary giants. Follow her journey as she travels to all fifty states and discover what she learned about Packing Light. Learn more about Allison here.

5. Love Does by Bob Goff. There are very few titles I’d consider re-reading. However, Love Does  is one of those rare treasures. If you are somewhat new to my blog, or a first time visitor, you may have missed my more detailed review of this particular book. This book is for the world-changers, the doers, and non-fiction lovers.

6. Rooms by James L. Rubart. It’s not everyday that the opportunity arises for me to support local authors. Roomsdefinitely grabbed my attention. It’s very unique in that it didn’t quite fit many of the popular story plots. In a nutshell, the story is about one man and one soul-searching journey as he finds God after years of living the “good life.” A series of uncanny  events causes leads him to serious introspection.

7. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I didn’t know how much I loved murder mysteries until I discovered this stupendous author.

8. As Waters Gone By by Tina Bustamante. This book is one of hope and redemption. There are no other two words which better fit the bill than these. Except maybe grace and love. I love Tina. She put her heart and soul into this book and the result is beautiful.

9. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday. Every once in a while, I unearth a gem in a secondhand bookstore  such as the one Torday has brilliantly written. While I may not know much about fishing, I walked away from these precious pages with a little more faith in humanity. And an increased respect for fish and fishermen.

10. The Vow: The True Events that Inspired the Movie by Kim Carpenter and Krickitt Carpenter. One word: wow. I can tell you right now, had I read this book prior to seeing the movie, I would not have paid money to see the Hollywood film. This here is the real deal.

 

Did I leave out any must-read in 2014 titles? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

 

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Sunday Afternoon Ramblings: Adventure & The Daily Grind

Sunday afternoon ramblings:

Many days, such as today, I wish I were more spontaneous. I admire people who chuck their agenda out the window and say “forget it! I’m doing something different today!” (Without having a nervous breakdown, I might add.) This action seems so freeing.

I wonder if I leave enough room in the margins of my planner for the unplanned. My guess is not so much.  What would I find myself doing , if each day I intentionally set aside time to do anything that just so happened to come my way? Would I do anything different?

I get so wrapped up in the future and what I need to get from Point A to Point B, that I forget about  everything in-between. It’s easy–for me at least.

I started your typical four-year college plan my senior year in high school-as most students do. The biggest difference probably is that  I chose the Running Start route. Mainly because I had no idea my senior year what I wanted to do with my life or where I wanted to go to school or how I was going to pay for it.  What I didn’t plan for was taking classes two summers in a row.

Not ideal if you ask me. But hey, these were and are necessary steps to fulfill my goals and plans, however, I still question if it’s the best plan.

The problem with being a transfer student working to earn my AA, is that I constantly need to be thinking about the future. One wrong move could set me back. This makes living in the moment hard.

I know I’m prone as much as anybody to society’s pressure on education as anybody else, but I still think it’s stupid. However, according to my life plan, I don’t have the guts to ditch my current itinerary for a completely new one.

College is a tough place to be. The said “time of your life” is also one of the most stressful. How is that supposed to work?

I was invited on two missions trips this summer and declined both. I cringed as I explained I had to take summer quarter.  Something about that response just sounds particularly lame.

The problem with having gone previously on two global mission’s trips is it’s easy to feel as though any volunteer opportunities  aside from global missions are trivial and purposeless.(Well, maybe it’s not a problem, simply a grand new perspective that changes everything.) I’ll be honest, it’s not easy to view my school as a mission field after spending ten days in the wrecked country of Haiti. The truth is, everyone needs Jesus. And “everyone” is right here wherever I am. Of course it’s also easier to talk about sharing and living the gospel than to do just that.

Scripture to ponder:

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worth of the gospel of Christ. The, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel…”

Philippians 1: 27

-Kayla

Type your thoughts to me below!

Empty Shelf Book 14: Rooms

Title: Rooms

Author: James L. Rubart

What’s it about: When Micah Taylor inherits a mansion in Cannon Beach from a long dead uncle who he has never met, he’s not quite sure what to think. After stepping out of his comfort zone, Taylor decides to visit this mystery house. In the house, he encounters rooms which force him to face bits and pieces of his painful past-and the faith he thought he had abandoned for sure.

Why did I read it:A friend recommended it to me and I thought “why not?” It’s probably something I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, but I’m glad I read it nonetheless.

Favorite idea: “Despite the unanswered questions and being within miles of where his heart had shattered, he felt at peace.” This feeling resonated deeply with me.

Where you can buy it: here

Writing Is Hard

Writing is hard.

Every writer has this defining point in their writing journey where they ask themselves the questions:

 “Why am I writing?” “Is it all worth it?” “Who should I write for?” “Should I write for high stats, or what’s on my heart?”

I’ve been blogging for a year. I haven’t even reached 2,000 views. I’m pretty sure I get the most views when my mom shares my posts on her Facebook page. My fan-base is limited. (I’m not sure it even qualifies as a fan-base). I’ve signed up for about every suggested social media site one could think of. And, consequently, I haven’t seen much change in my stats.

I continue writing. If I don’t write, I feel as if part of me is missing. Still, it’d be nice for a complete stranger who is more successful than I have been to recognize my work. There is no denying that wishful thinking.

I hate sounding cliche, but no great thing comes easily. Good things come with hours, weeks, even years of hard work.  That’s what I missed when I first began my journey. I missed the tears, the calloused fingers, the rejections, the failed attempts. The ceremonious burning of drafts. The promise to get up, leave, and never write another word. Those are defining moments in any artist’s life. The rise to fame hardly compares to the time spent laboring to arrive at that point.

So if it’s not easy, why do it? I’ll tell you why. Because that one person who is impacted by your writing, makes up for the lack of viewers, the low stats, the rejection letters.

One of my Twitter followers responded to my post stepping away for awhile with these words: “You shine.” Folks, that’s why I keep writing.

If you write for numbers, there’s good chance you might not write anything great at all.

Keep at it.

-Kayla

5 Apps Worth Using

After much deliberation and resentment, I’ve “joined the I-Phone family.” My plan was to be that cool hipster person with some sort of Android. It appears I’m too mainstream. Anyhow, I thought I’d share my thoughts on  some neat apps I discovered

1. Happier. It’s like Facebook except, well happier. It’s less of a social media site and more a way to share “happy moments.”

2. Werdsmith is AWESOME.  It’s keeps track of your word count, you can share what you write, set goals for writing projects, etc. AND their logo is a mustache, so if you’re into facial hair, Werdsmith is clearly for you.

3.Dictionary.com. This one is for all of my fellow nerds out there. I mean, it’s not only a dictionary, but a thesaurus as well. Did I mention it works offline?

4.OK DO THIS. Maybe I had high expectations, but I found Instagram a little anticlimactic. I mean, that’s what you do when you get an I-Phone, am I right? It’s possible it’s only a cooler experience for those who are InstaFamous-if you know what I mean. Anyways, if you enjoy Instagram (or if you don’t) OK DO THIS will blow your socks off. If you currently feel as though you are contributing to a pool of already large #selfie and #food pictures, this app takes everything to the next level.

5. Flipboard. Because everything that you used to read in the paper is now online. Why not create a personal, organized platform where you can read articles from papers, magazines, blogs, and social media sites? Like most apps, it takes a little playing around with to really understand it’s purpose.

P.S. I’m looking for a new Bible app. The You Version is great, but it keeps bugging out on me. Suggestions?

I am on instagram, and you can check out my feed at the bottom of the page. My username is kaylanbonar. I’d still highly recommend that you check out OK DO THIS. 

Stepping Away (for awhile)

This year I decided to participate in the Catholic holiday that is Lent. I’ve always admired people who have fasted from something (or even multiple things) for such a long period of time. For me, forty days could easily feel similar to forty years.

I’m not catholic nor do I have anything against catholic and in the big picture none of this has anything to do with Catholicism anyways.

I adore creating excuses. So much that I create excuses for creating excuses. (This is a skill). That being said, making the decision to commit to fasting for 40 days was a big deal. If anything, this experience will hopefully teach me to be honest with myself.

I took a look at a list of the 25 most popular things people give up for Lent. It’s quite interesting. Many aren’t very unusual. Chocolate, sweets, that sort of thing.

I chose Facebook.

I could come up with a million reasons why, but I’ll try to whittle down the list. Here are two things I struggle with that are made worse by social media (specifically Facebook):

  • Jealousy
  • Comparison

These two often go hand-in-hand and often end in an attitude of doom and gloom.

Sometimes, starting your day off by skimming through engagement pictures and watching your friends one by one change their relationship status from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ isn’t healthy. It just isn’t. Not because marriages are bad or relationships are bad, but because maybe it’s not what’s best for me right here in this moment.

When ‘everyone’ A.K.A those two or three people filling up your news feed seems to be doing something you aren’t it’s waay to easy to second guess my own actions. Starting off the day criticizing myself is probably not the best way to bring about a good ending.

If we’re friends on Facebook (and if we’re not), it should be clear that I’m not the type to limit my status updates to only grand spectacular events occurring in my life. Let’s be real. Everyday isn’t perfect, so why pretend that it is?

I’m not the perfect student. I’m a hard-working student, but not necessarily the one ringing in all 4.0’s. When the end of a quarter comes around, I tend to beat myself up over the fact that I, unlike ‘everyone’ else didn’t get as many 4.0’s as I should have.

As I said before, these are only two focuses. And the big picture isn’t Facebook. Or relationships. Or good grades. If you’ve been reading my posts, hopefully you’ll have noticed that their topics may vary, but I always attempt to pick out the life application. I don’t want you to read this a post, see that whatever is written is only applicable to me, and go on with your day. I desire more out of my writing than that.

Ultimately, by the end of these full forty days, I want to choose joy over jealousy and comparison. I want to rejoice in others when they are happy, not plaster on a fake smile. I do not believe the myth that if my friends Facebook timelines are perfect, so are their lives. For me, it’s an easy lie to believe.

Lent should be about giving something up to invite God in and fill what was before an empty space, temporarily gratified. Leave room for God.

Question to ponder: If God is the absolute best, why don’t we choose Him above all else every time? 

-Kayla

small is the new big: what a stranger told me about my faith

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Disclaimer: This post is slightly longer, but I think the story is awesome, so you should at least skim to the end.

I don’t know about you, but some days I’m quite sure that my life would be utterly boring without the Community Transit system. In class everyday, it’s not to hard to predict what that period will bring. With bus stops on the other hand, you just never know.

There is something about waiting for a bus with complete stranger(s) at the end of a long day that  just makes me want to thrust my hand forward and start a conversation and say let’s be friends.

Said no ISFJ named Kayla ever.

I surprised myself one day during a twenty-some minute bus-stop wait a couple of weeks ago.

The conversation started with cats.  Well, I didn’t mention exactly mention cats, but this nice man came walking down the sidewalk with a pile of books from what I assume to be the Re-Read bookstore across the street. Anyhow, I figured they were for his child or niece or nephew. The kid must like cats.

I notice insignificant minutia details like that all the time.

Anyhow this man dropped his pile of books and I helped him pick them up and whatnot. It’s always awkward going for long periods of time without striking up some sort of small talk, we talked about small-talkish things such as what’s the time and etc.

I didn’t expect to have a theological conversation. We talked about why we were riding the bus. He hadn’t had a car for a few years now he said and he didn’t see a reason why to go out and get a car.

My turn to share. I explained my predicament, how I’m legally not allowed to drive until I can manage to go six months free of seizure of any sort.

What he said next was EXACTLY the reminder I needed.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Matthew 17:20

It wasn’t at all critical or in a holier-than-thou tone. It was incredibly refreshing.It was a reminder that my God is so much bigger than any earthly obstacle.  God isn’t punishing me. He’s molding me and making me into something beautiful. He can make you beautiful too. 

-Kayla

Like A Coffee Maker

As I was cleaning out my Keurig coffee maker this afternoon, scraping out the buildup of coffee grinds, and disabling different parts, I experienced a revelation:


Our spiritual lives are just  like a coffee maker. If we let sin build up in different areas of our lives, we break down completely.  It doesn’t take long either before we stop functioning completely.

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In order to receive an overflow of all that is good and healthy,  all parts must be clean and up to par. The act of cleansing ourselves from impurities is easy to put off. We think,”I can hold on to this habit a tiny bit longer.”

Nothing is more detrimental.  Some may say it’s simply laziness, I think it’s an excuse. Cleaning is hard work. It takes time. And we hold on tight to our time. It also take sacrifice. And sacrifice requires us to let go of something we clutch close to us. I know for me, I’m afraid of sacrifice. That’s right, afraid. I find it hard to believe that God could bless me with something better, or that worse, my sacrifice won’t be replaced, and that I’ll have given it up all for nothing.

That’s fear intermingled with doubt. Two very dangerous emotions.  If we trust the little black specks to disappear on their own we have some serious heart matters to deal with. If we doubt that we will be content with what God provides, or fear that He won’t provide at all, we’re choosing to settle. We’re choosing to settle than less than God’s best.

This fear and doubt is very real in my life right now. One thing I know for certain is that once I take time and care to clean up the mess I’ve made, I won’t regret it. Once we wipe away all the cheap and cast away ingredients, what’s left is rich and unlike anything we’ve ever tasted before. Why is it so hard to accept a taste of what we’re already thirsty for?

Here’s to the dirty work!

-Kayla

Thirsty

http://tap.unicefusa.org

Thirsty. 768 million people are thirsty. Oh, so thirsty.

The UNICEF Tap Project is trying to provide assistance to  those staggering numbers. All you need to do is put down your phone. It’s that easy. (Or is it?) For every ten minutes you don’t use or touch your phone, national sponsors partnering with UNICEF will give a day’s worth of clean water to one of those 768 million people.

This challenge was just too good not to share.

Some ideas for those of you who “must” use your phones during the day:

1. Do the challenge while you sleep. At some point in the day, your phone has to be put down.

2. Be strategic. Plan a block of time to answer your e-mails, update your FB status, post your Instagram pictures etc. You can start and stop, BUT, if you do, be sure jot down the number of hours/minutes you stopped at.

DO something with all the time you would’ve spent on your phone.

How long can you go?

-Kayla

P.S. I’m  currently at 2 hours.

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