During quarantine 2020, I renewed a forgotten passion. Jigsaw Puzzles. I shocked myself, my husband, and everyone who knows me in my mission to complete the puzzles, as in ALL the puzzles. (Hello, enneagrram 3). Much to my surprise (not really), my lock-down companions taught me some powerful life lessons. It is my pleasure to share.
Autumn de Wilde's Emma. was one of my first quarantine watches. I was hesitant because those who know me know I'm all things, Jane. I've read all the books and watched all the adaptations. As far as the story goes, Emma is a bit different than her other masterpieces because there is a tongue in cheek aspect of the plot that makes me imagine Austen in the background winking at the reader. As much as I love a good romance, and I will go on record as saying that the BBC Series, Emma, still makes me swoon, this jaunt down a comedic and slightly irreverant road is perfect for the story.
When any new Austen content comes on the scene, my gut instinct is a resounding, passionate Don't Mess It Up.
This movie did not mess it up. The powers that be got it right in the most delightful, somewhat naughty version of the 1815 novel. The ensemble cast is perfection. To know more about this brilliant film, click here.
Confession: I'm a sucker for a gritty tale involving history, royalty, and gore. If this is your cup of tea, you are in luck. These tight, 30-minute episodes are deliciously addictive. Author Dana Schwartz can tell a story that will have you wide-eyed and hungry for more. My personal favorites involve the infamous Henry VIII and his ill-fated (sometimes headless) wives! Click on the link below to explore all things Noble Blood.
Noble Blood explores the stories of some of history’s most fascinating royals: the tyrants and the tragic, the murderers and the murdered, and everyone in between.
The world is full of ill-fated love affairs, bad decisions, and family drama, but for a monarch, the personal will determine the fate of nations.
And when you’re wearing a crown, mistakes tend to mean blood.
The teacher is prepared. She has studied her subject matter inside and out. The lesson plan is spot on, designed to touch every learning style, every level of intellectual capacity. Ready, set, go! She writes the premise of the lesson on the board and turns to begin. A raised hand stops her in her tracks. She sighs—this kid. The student every teacher simultaneously loves to have in their classroom, yet dreads when they see that raised hand. The Questioner.
"But what if it isn't?"
Patience. Patience is the key to victory.
She raises her head, straightens her shoulders, and asks, "What if what isn't?"
He nods at the board, and she, despite her aggravation, quirks a grin.
"Ok, Knox, what if it isn't?"
Time to reconsider. To consider again, to turn a subject inside out and reevaluate.
I taught high school for a lot of years. And I had an inquisitive Knox in my classroom each and every time. These people will make your brain hurt, but in the end, it's worth it. Why? Because everyone needs to reconsider as a form of checks and balances. Check yourself every once in a while. You won't regret it.
Check out the description on amazon.com:
If we ask just one question, does everything fall apart?
In All Things Reconsidered, popular podcaster Knox McCoy uses a unique blend of humor, pop culture references, and personal stories to show how a willingness to reconsider ideas can actually help us grow ourselves, our lives, and our beliefs.
In this laugh-out-loud defense of reconsideration, Knox dives into topics like:
I finished this beautiful letter from a father to a son today. My heart broke as I listened to the author read his poignant words. As a parent, I would do anything to protect my child-literally, shielding their bodies with my own. Protection is not only sacrificing but also preparing and equipping. There is no doubt the coursework for living this life is dissimilar, and the final grade is much more than a simple pass or fail.
This read is powerful, necessary, and gut-wrenching.
You are writing invites to a party. Sitting at your desk, a cup of coffee in hand, tip-tapping the pen on the edge of a pad, dozens of names come to mind. It’s a small gathering. Intimate. Who should you ask? Then, your face lights up as you envision two faces, two individuals who have such great chemistry you know your work as a hostess will be minimal because they will entertain.
Melanie Shankle lives in Texas with her husband, Perry, her daughter, Caroline, and their two dogs, Piper and Mabel. She is a best-selling author and speaker found at https://thebigmamablog.com. Sophie Hudson is an Alabama girl married to David, mother of Alex, and dog mama to Hazel. She is also the best selling author, speaker, teacher-all the things. You can tune in to her at boomama.net.
These two ladies co-host The Big Boo Cast. https://bigboo.libsyn.com
Y’all, they are a hoot! They talk about everything from skincare to football to recipes to raising children to marriage to pop culture. For an uplifting hour, kick back and laugh with two of the funniest ladies around.
I listen to my podcasts on apple podcasts, but they are available in multiple places.
I have found myself craving human interaction like dark chocolate after a sugar fast. Can you relate? Quarantine has taught me how much I take for granted in the context of friendship/relationship. To sit across from an empathic friend and catch up on life, get someone else’s perspective, be reminded you are not alone and there are abundant blessings to be counted and lifted up for thanksgiving-PRICELESS. When I downloaded Melanie Shankle’s, On the Bright Side in April, the listen was a tonic to my soul. Melanie reads the audible version of the book in a tone that is humorous and sympathetic. I highly recommend!
Synopsis from amazon.com:
These days, so many voices tell us what to do, what to think, and what kind of parent or friend or spouse to be that it's easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated. Somewhere in the midst of online arguments and crazy politics and the ups and downs of life, we've lost sight of the gifts that are all around us: kindness, love, mercy, and joy.
In On the Bright Side, Melanie Shankle reminds us of the unchanging principles we can count on in a changing world. These are lessons that Melanie has learned along the way about how to find all the joy that life has to offer - and why encouragement is never something to keep to ourselves. Exploring topics such as dealing with comparisons, when life doesn't turn out like we expected, and how to find your people, Melanie invites us to lead with love in all areas of our lives.
This delightful memoir highlights the joys of life told in Melanie's down to earth, relatable, and totally enjoyable style. On the Bright Side is a how-to guide to knowing - and living - what matters most.
All things Melanie can be found here:
Amazon Link to Book:
Y'all, not to minimize the problems that are currently eating this world, thereby making society crazy, but I'd like to propose a baby step in the age-old question: "Why can't we just all get along?" OR "What the heck is WRONG with people?"
Take a nap.
Here's my logic:
Jesus (aka God in a bod) was in his 30's and took naps. (Documented Gospel Truth)
Therefore, Amanda (most definitely not God in a bod) is in her 40's, and should definitely take naps.
You know why I think Jesus took naps? I have a lot of hypotheticals here, but I'm going to share my top 3 or 4:
1) To maintain a high level of patience with the tomfoolery occurring around Him.
2) To avoid grumpiness and the desire to wipe stupidity out with one fell swoop.
3) To maintain a high level of productivity during his short ministry. After all, He was on a mission with a timeline.
4) To practice what He preached, because Lawd Y'all, loving people is no small order sometimes.
I know, I know. He was divine, holy, and without fault. I GET IT. He's my Savior, too.
He was housed in flesh and blood, and being divine and all, knew when sleep was a necessity.
Many of us (Americans), know this truth but choose to ignore this truth with kitschy quips, "I can sleep when I'm dead.", "Who needs sleep?" "I'm a night owl.", "I don't require a lot of sleep."
Raise your hand if you have superpowers? Anyone, anyone? Nope. Me, either. So, as my Kentucky bestie says, "C'mon Y'all!"
We LOVE to work, thrive on busy, and, if possible, inject caffeine directly into our veins. People are literally dying in the pursuit to stay awake.
Stop. It. (Insert a hand clap when you see a period.)
It's a proven fact (google it) napping does the following:
1) Improves your health. (From your head to toe and all the unmentionables in between.)
2) It makes you more alert. (Wake up refreshed and join the conversation with open ears and a reasonable tone.)
3) Inspires creativity. (I'll take a little of that. Please, and thank you.)
4) Improves mood. (Ummm...Yes, please.)
5) It makes you more PATIENT and willing/able to LISTEN to other people. (For the love of the planet, CLOSE your eyes.)
And the good news? Not much is required. 10-20 minutes.
My friends, allow me to anticipate your questions:
Well, I happen to be a habitual napper so I can answer this question with a little creativity (get that?)
1) In an ideal life, at home in your bed or recliner or couch. (Never going to happen?) Read on.
3) School parking lot
4) Grocery store parking lot
5) As you're going through the car wash machine thingy (Be cautious with this one.)
6) At your desk
7) Under your desk
8) Any parking lot
9) In the bathroom. *Note, a handicap bar is a great tool to use as a lean on device.
10) During your lunch break. (When I taught school, I may/may not have turned off all the lights, moved a desk out of eyesight, and put my head down.)
You don't have to actually sleep. No worries. Download a white noise app on your phone, set the alarm, and close your eyes. Unplug those neurons for just a few. Guaranteed, you will be a much more rational human afterward.
All joking aside, this road is rough, and you require food, water, shelter, and rest (all figurative and literal). Claim the following verse and take care of yourself.
Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid. When you rest, your sleep will be peaceful.
Brian Dembowczyk has created a beautiful resource for parents and children (age level 6-12, grade level K-6) to break down the nuts and bolts of their faith. The purpose of the book is to engage kiddos in the "why behind the what", "why we do what we do" and most importantly, "why we believe what we believe" conversations.
From the Introduction:
Cornerstones: 200 Questions and Answers to Learn Truth is designed to help kids learn the
foundational doctrines of the Christian faith—not with the goal of knowing more about God, but
instead to know God more. Each question and answer is designed to help explain who God is, how
we can know Him better, and why He does what He does. Cornerstones teaches through questions
and answers, a method that began in the early days of the church. The practice recognizes a
child’s natural inquisitive nature and offers doctrine in bite-size morsels. As kids understand each
question and answer, they begin to develop a comprehensive understanding of God that deepens
their love for Him. God moves from being a distant, unknown authority figure to a close, known,
The book is divided into eight sections, each with its own color scheme:
The Church and Last Things
The Parent Connection section is fantastic and should not be ignored. A serious opportunity for digging in exists on these pages.
Sample question from the Think section: Jesus said the Bible is a like a strong foundation to stand on. How can the Bible help us when life is difficult, such as when someone is being unkind to us, when we feel lonely, or when we are tempted to sin?
A Parent's Guide is also available as an additional resource. As a parent, I would consider purchasing both.
My junior book reviewer, Brooklyn, was excited to dig in and give me her "take" on the book. Here are her thoughts:
She loved the colors and design of the book.
The Scripture references cited in the answers were cool because she could open her Bible and look it up for herself.
Some difficult words were defined, such as grace and salvation.
There was no table of contents, so if she wanted to look up one question/answer, she had to flip through the book instead of looking at an index.