Nelson, before

Hi friends! Did you have a nice holiday? Celebrate the New Year with bubbly and fireworks? I hope it was delightful. I am happy to have taken some time away to spend with friends and family. I had a break from work and have returned full of excitement about the tasks at hand, along with a lengthy list of resolutions and goals for 2015.

It is going to be a great year!

One use of time I’d like to be more mindful about is reading. I’ve let my reading for pleasure slip, spending more time watching Netflix or silly episodes of Castle. This year, I’d like to read a book a week and provide a review here. I have a room full of books I’ve already purchased that are of interest, and are begging for my attention. Two reviews of books finished during the holiday break:

1. Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber. I heard about this memoir during a podcast of “On Being.” Nadia, a Lutheran minister covered in tattoos, was interviewed about her irreverent attitude about faith and how she feels God dragged her back into a relationship. I was crying by the end of the episode. My faith hasn’t wavered, exactly. But there have certainly been times of life when I was regularly attending church vs. lately. (I’ve been happily spending far more time seeking God on mountaintops, with my trusty hiking companions, than man-made sanctuaries.) Nadia sums up so many of my feelings on being in a relationship with God. Her spunky, vulgar, incredibly apt perspective about faith is exactly what I needed to read.

I’m only sad I didn’t attend her church — “House for All Sinners and Saints” in Denver when I lived in town.

One of many passages I found spot on:

“There is a popular misconception that religion, Christianity specifically, is about knowing the difference between good and evil sot hat we can choose the good. But being good has never set me free the way truth has. Knowing all of this makes me love and hate Jesus at the same time. Because, when instead of contrasting good and evil, he contrasted truth and evil, I have to think about all the times I’ve substituted being good (or appearing to be good) for truth.

“Very often I will avoid the truth until my face goes red… When someone like me, who will go to superhero lengths to avoid the truth, runs out of options — when I am found out or too exhausted to pretend anymore or maybe just confronted by my sister — it feels like the truth might crush me. And that is right. The truth does crush us, but the instant it crushes us, it somehow puts us back together into something honest. It’s death and resurrection every time it happens.”

One more, concerning her love for Mary Magdalene and how we should respond to violence and tragedy when we don’t know what to do:

“What Mary would do is show up and remind us that despite the violence and fear, it’s still always worth it to love God and to love people. And always, always, it is worth it to sing alleluia in defiance of the devil, who surely hates the sounds of it.”

Yes. So much yes. 5 out of 5 bananas because this book will stick with me for life and I’ve already bought copies to give as gifts. Yes.

Nelson, after

2. A Sudden Light.Did you read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein? Well, this is another one of his lovely novels. It is set in Seattle and is about generations of fathers and sons in the same timber dynasty family who have to reconcile each other’s desires about wealth and the environment. It is told from the perspective of a 14 year old boy, Clever Trevor, who you’ll fall in love with.

I really enjoyed this story once I got into it. 3.5/5 bananas, absoloodle.

Nelson, on the other hand, is loving being able to see again — but not happy about always being cold. I pulled out the electric blanket for him this weekend. I think it is safe to say his Colorado roots have been officially transplanted.

Happy reading and rocking the first week of this sweet year!