Marking Milestones in a Pandemic

Last week marked one year since launching Bloom Book 3. But instead of feeling joyful, I found I had more mixed emotions than expected. As I started to dissect why I was feeling this way, I realized those thoughts could have some value for others as we move into a month known for marking milestones: end of the school year, graduations, weddings, etc. You may not get to mark those milestones in the way that you’ve anticipated, and for that, let me pause and say I am sorry. From my own experience, I want to encourage you to find some way to mark your milestone during this pandemic. In whatever way is meaningful for you, do it. Your future self will thank you.

So back to last year.

The process of writing Bloom took four years, the time it would take to get another college degree. So not only was it the launch of the book itself, it marked the end of my first major writing project. Yes launching a book is “marking the moment.” The launch party we held was also meaningful. But I didn’t personally bring those chapters to an end before I blazed into the next one.

The day that I launched Bloom Book 3, I also finished teaching at a local homeschool co-op. It was my first year of teaching and I had such a great experience working with juniors and seniors on their writing abilities. The day after I finished teaching and launching the book, I started working with my husband in an office job, not related to writing. I had worked with him a few years prior, so while the job wasn’t entirely new, it was still going to be a big transition because at least for the first month, the job would be full time.

Marking milestones in a pandemic

In the week leading up to these transitions, some big emotional things were happening within my circle. While I wasn’t involved personally, I was affected deeply by the situations that were transpiring.

End of one job. End of huge writing project. Start of new job. Emotional aftermath. All of this resulted in way too much to process. And it sucked.

I gave the example in my Insta stories last week of laying a path with paving stones. To build a functioning path, all the pieces need to lay next to each other, not on top of each other. In my heart and mind, it felt like all these pieces were piling up, creating an unsteady tower rather than a functioning path. Much like a path leads us forward to a new location, I needed a path to walk on through these transitions, but I didn’t have one.

I hadn’t marked my milestones.

As with most things, time helped unkink the knots in my heart and mind and I was able to move forward. But those lessons came up again as I celebrated my 30th birthday in quarantine (with an amazing birthday caravan!) and wrapped up my final year of teaching in the midst of the pandemic, separated from physically being with my students. This time, I’m not neglecting to mark the end of one chapter before I move onto the next.

Marking milestones in a pandemic
Chai latte + reading in the park after my last day of school.
Socially distanced of course!

You are probably facing a lot of missed milestones as well or at least ones that will unfold in an unorthodox manner. I would again encourage you to find some way to mark them! It may not seem like it matters now, but it will matter further on down the road. I’m not the first one to point out that celebrating milestones and cultural rituals affirm our sense of community, aid with transitions, and provide structure in a hectic world. I’m just adding my voice to the chorus that, yes, it matters. Endings and transitions do matter, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

I want to hear from you now. What milestones are you celebrating this month or have celebrated in quarantine, and what unique ways have you celebrated them?

Bloom Book 3 is One!

Bible study for girls

Bloom Book 3 is one today! The last year has flown by and it’s been so wonderful getting to share this third book in the Bloom series with all of you. If you’re looking for a Bible study for some young girls in your life, these books are a great place to start!

Bible study for girls

If you’re new around here or new to the Bloom books, welcome! Bloom is a three-book devotional series for girls ages 9-14. Mirroring the growth of flowers, the series starts in Book 1 with a girl’s relationship with God and blooms outward in Book 2 (friends and family relationships and Book 3 (community relationships). While that’s the design of the books, they can certainly be read in any order.

Friends, these are indeed strange times. Let us not forget that time spent in God’s word will keep us grounded no matter what life throws at us. But guess what? Kids need to know that too. And I believe with all my heart these books will encourage your daughter, your granddaughter, niece, student, or neighbor to sink her roots into God during this pandemic. You’re not just buying another book. You’re helping to equip the young girls in your life with truth and peace for years to come.

Peace to you and yours!

Buy Bloom on Amazon

YouVersion Easter Plan Available Now!

Happy April everyone! As we are all in the midst of navigating this pandemic and adjusting to our shelter-in-place routine, we are also looking at Easter celebrations that will look very different from years past. In spite of that, I’m looking forward to reflecting on Christ’s sacrifice for us. Will you join me in preparing our hearts for Easter Sunday? You can do that by starting my new Easter plan available now on YouVersion.

YouVersion plans for Easter

Top Books from the Decade: All the Rest!

If you’ve stuck with me this far, congratulations! This final post rounds up my top books from the decade with some odds and ends: a memoir, books that have expanded my horizons, or taught me something I didn’t know I didn’t know. Most of these I read on my Kindle through Overdrive, so I only had one physical copy of all the books listed here. I’m trying to not buy ALL THE BOOKS, okay people? Help me out.

Top Books from the Decade

From food to murders to geography to wolves (YES we are going to talk about THOSE WOLVES again), these books took me by surprise in the most delightful way.

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir” by Ruth Reichl

Another Anne Bogel recommendation—this is a charming memoir from the editor of Gourmet Magazine. You get a little bit of everything in this book: recipes, insight into the publishing history, New York life glimpses. The chapter that took my breath away was the one on what it was like to be in New York during 9/11 and the harrowing days and weeks that followed. Really one of the most delightful books that I read all year.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Grann

Geez. Oklahoma. This book is a historical narrative that reads like a suspense thriller. Set in the 1920s, “Flower Moon” examines the systematic deaths of Osage Indians over their mineral rights. Why are all these rich Indians dying? Why is nobody doing anything? How can it be stopped? Woven in with this investigation was also the birth of our nation’s investigative office: the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was eye-opening and heartbreaking all at the same time. As soon as I finished reading it, I forced the book on Kurtis and made him speed-read it so we could talk about it. I originally read this on Kindle, but it’s definitely one I would consider purchasing a hard copy of and re-reading, especially since it has to do with state history.

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World” by Tim Marshall

Traveling by region/country, author Tim Marshall takes a brief look at the history of the country and its unique geography and then how that affects current day issues. This would honestly make a great addition to a high school geography/civics/government class—I wish I had read this in high school! But I would at least recommend reading it this year in particular as we head into an election year. I am for sure planning to re-read it this year. Spoiler: don’t skip the Arctic chapter at the end. More drama than you can shake a penguin at.

“The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary” by Simon Winchester

You know how you read a description of a book and you instantly know you’re going to love it? That’s how it was for me and this book. This book tells the history of how the Oxford English Dictionary came to be under the direction of Professor James and Murray and the mentally-ill prisoner who was one of its largest contributors, Dr. W.C. Minor. And it was one of the most fascinating books I read all year.

It’s an amazing look at the capabilities of the human mind and heart even when marred by illness and tragedy. Bonus: The film adaptation with Mel Gibson and Sean Penn is incredible!

Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone” by Douglas W. Smith

If you were around me at all late this summer, you probably heard me mention this book. I know. I’m sorry. We’re going to talk about wolves again. In preparation for our family trip to Yellowstone, I read this book about the wolf reintroduction program in the mid-1990s. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I can tell you I didn’t plan to become #teamwolf at the end of this book. Written by a scientist, the book reads like anything but a scientific report but like once again, a moving family saga. Except the family is a pack of wolves.

Tracing the beginnings of the wolf reintroduction movement to the release of the wolves in Yellowstone, to the triumphs and fallout of the following years, you’ll follow a family dynasty with more drama than Dallas. I was blown away by the ripple effects that this one species has on the rest of the ecosystem. I was moved by how unique each pack was. And I very much hope to spot a wolf in the wild one day, though I may have to settle for re-reading Smith’s book.

Well, that’s all of my top books from the decade! Thanks for indulging me across THREE blog posts. Gah, that’s a bit excessive, but whatever. I hope you found a few titles for your TBR list this year. Happy Reading!

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My top fiction books from the decade

My top non-fiction books from the decade