Tuesday, March 29, 2016

In Which I Dump My Recent Favorite Books On You (and also feels) + Books I've Marked DNF

Yes, yes, I know that I'm supposed to post my Monday's Minutes story today. But how could I pass up this topic for Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish? Said topic is: "5 of my latest five star reads & five of my most disappointing or 1 star reads" (I'm doing books I Did Not Finish instead of 1 star reads). Come on, I had to do this!

Caution: Be prepared to get crushed by feels (of your own, or the author's, or both).

*** Books I recently gave 5 stars 
(aka some of my new favorites) ***

1) St Ignatius and the Company of Jesus by August Dereleth

Okay, can we just talk about the fact that I absolutely love St Ignatius of Loyola? Like, he's one of my favorite saints of ever. I think I've become a fangirl of his... but not in a weird way, I promise! 

I love Saint Ignatius because he completely changed his life. He used to be a proud soldier who was so tough that he didn't even cry out in pain when the DOCTORS WERE BREAKING HIS LEG WHILE HE WAS AWAKE SO THAT THEY COULD SET IT PROPERLY. He went from that, to being the humblest missionary priest who SOBBED SO MUCH DURING MASS THAT THE POPE HAD TO TELL HIM IT WAS BAD FOR HIS HEALTH IF HE CONTINUED TO SAY MASS EVERYDAY.

Another reason I love him so much is that even though he was humble, it didn't mean that he kept his gifts or insights to himself. He wrote what he called the Spiritual Exercises, and he was passionate about guiding people through them. He didn't keep them to himself and think, "Because I created these, I know that they can't be that good. I shouldn't share these with anyone because that would draw attention to myself." No. He could take all of the attention because he was humble and didn't let the fame get to him.

Do I want to become as holy as this man? Yes. Do I have the will and determination to do it? Not yet. But I hope that by God's grace I will someday.

So if you've never read about St Ignatius, I advise you to go do it now. I've read 4 books about him, and I learn something more every time.

2) May B.

Have I mentioned before that I love novels in verse? This book is about a 12 year old dyslexic girl from Kansas in the 1800's who is sent to help a neighbor who lives, like, 20 miles away (which was a whole lot in those days) for the summer until Christmas. I won't give anything away, but it was a sad book. I loved it, though. Besides, novels in verse are usually sad. Anyway, you should read it if poetry is your thing - in which case, tell me, cause we can be buddies. :)

3) St Joan the Girl Soldier by Louis de Wohl

Gahh, and St Joan of Arc is also one of my favorite saints! I had a hard time choosing either her or St Maria Goretti for my Confirmation Saint, but I ended up picking St. Maria Goretti.

So, St Joan had sass, okay? Like, these Chruch authorities were asking her questions about her Voices, and she shot back really funny/semi-insulting answers. Would you normally think of a saint doing that? No. But the Maid did.

And she also got this military commander who was infamous for swearing to GIVE UP CUSSING altogether. And then they ended up becoming super close friends. Seriously, just read any book about her, and then you tell me if you don't ship the friendship of Joan and La Hire!

*sighs* I love when I get overwhelmed with feels about the saints!

4) Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Clare Vanderpool is just amazing, all right?

Navigating Early was an original way to explore the mind of a boy with autism in the 1940s - which was before anyone knew what it was. I loved how the author portrayed the sort of "out of contact with reality" side of Early's mind, but also the brilliance of it. As a cousin of two autistic children, I have experienced the ways in which they are different from other people, but also the ways in which they are smarter than others in particular areas. I really loved this book. It had an altogether mysterious air to it, which is also something I love in books.  

5) The Boy On the Porch by Sharon Creech

Okay, this is a book for, like, 3rd graders. Why would I like something written for that age target? For one thing, the language was so beautiful. It also fit so much into only a few words. The way in which the author crafted sentences together sounded much more meaningful in their brevity than if she had used as many words as most writers {insert nervous "yeah, that's me" chuckle} do to explain things. This book also had a mysterious air to it. I just really, really loved this book. <3

*** Books I Recently Marked Did Not Finish (please, don't judge me!) ***

1) The Milk of Birds

So, I checked this book out, renewed it, then turned it in and rechecked it out the same day. After all that, I finally started reading it, and... Hehehe. I still didn't ever finish it. Don't get me wrong, I actually thought it was a fine book. I just... I didn't really feel like finishing it. I had other things I wanted to read, and this book didn't interest me enough to finish before getting on to books that I really wanted to start. Fair? 

2) A Step Toward Falling

Okay, can I just say that I honestly didn't know what the point of this book even was? The synopsis didn't do that great of a job summing it up, and I still didn't feel like the book was getting anywhere after I read the first few chapters. So I stopped, because I felt like I was wasting my time. Plus, the characters were just... I didn't particularly like any of them. Or feel anything that they were feeling, I guess. So anyway, I only read a few chapters and will probably not pick it up to try again.

3) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making

So, this is probably the only book on this DNF list that I might consider trying again... Maybe. That's a strong maybe, actually, with an emphasis on the trying. I thought it was an interesting idea for this book, but I didn't really like its style. I don't know. I feel like the characters were sarcastic in a mean way that wasn't really funny to me. 

4) A Corner of White

This book sounds so enchanting, but I don't really know why I picked it up. I had read reviews by two bloggers I follow who both said that they felt this book was pointless. And they were lovers of YA novels. Why did I think that I would find it better when I am not easily impressed with much from this genre? I think it was mostly a feeling of, "Hey, they actually have a popular YA book that I recognize at my library! I guess that means I should check it out. How bad could it be?" (Plus, the cover was so pretty!) Anyway, I only read the first chapter. It wasn't really anything I read in the book that made me give up on it. I started reading it first, and that's when my logic kicked in. I realized that I shouldn't waste time on something I had already heard wasn't worth it. 

5) The Emperor of Anyplace by Tim Wynne-Jones

You know that feeling you get while reading a book that there is not going to be a really good lesson in the end? I felt this way while reading The Emperor of Anyplace. It was actually an interesting plot, and I was tempted to keep reading it. But I really like a meaningful story. If I'm just going to read for pleasure, I want it to be completely clean and light-hearted. And it's not that this book was terrible... I just... I don't know. I just couldn't finish it. I felt like I wouldn't have had that awe-filled, breathless feeling you get when you finish a really good book if I had finished it, you know? So I didn't.


Hmmm, you know what's funny, and what I'm just now noticing? It seems that my most recent 5 star ratings have been all children's books... and my recent Did Not Finish books are all... YA. Does this surprise you? I've told you before that I usually enjoy children's books more than I do Young Adult books. Believe me now?! I guess I love the innocent atmosphere of children's books - I don't have to worry about anything being inappropriate. Even if "mature" topics occur in Children's Fiction, they're usually glossed over, and I don't feel uncomfortable reading them. Or maybe I'm just still a kid at heart. I wouldn't mind that. ;)

So, what do you think about my opinions for each set? Do you love any of the books that I love? Hate them? Have mixed feelings? What about the books I didn't finish wading through? Did you finish them and love them? Do you have a reason why I should finish them? Tell me! I'd love to know these (and other bookish) thingies! Let's talk about all the feels!!!

Oh, and before you go: Did you get squished by my feels??? If you did, I'm sorry but not sorry. You were warned! ;)

- Maddie

Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy Easter! (And A Special Announcement)

Yeah, I know it's Monday, but I wrote most of this yesterday. So just pretend it is yesterday while you read this. :)

Happy Easter, everyone! What a beautiful day to celebrate our Savior's resurrection!

And guess what happened?

Yeah. Snow on Easter. What even? Like, we barely got any during the Christmas season. But weather is usually like that where I live. It's beautiful, though. I think God planned it this day (I mean He did, cause it happened, but...) because He wanted us to remember how white He made our sins when He sacrificed His Life for us on the Cross. At least, that's what I was reminded of this morning.

So Happy Easter, again!

Also, guys...

I have an announcement to make...



I'm going to write for an online magazine!


Okay, have a great week, guys...

Oh, you wanted to know more?

Okay, I guess I'll tell you. ;D

SOOOO, as I said, I have been accepted as a regular contributor to Tessa Emily Hall's new magazine called Pursue Magazine. 

Pursue Magazine is an inspirational, uplifting magazine for teenage girls. It encourages them to pursue their interests and to make a difference using their talents, though they are young. It covers beauty, fashion, health, and creative topics, and it is a Christian-based magazine. 

I am so excited to begin writing with this community of amazing young women! My first article is scheduled for April, but in the meantime, go and check out all of the wonderful articles already posted. Pursue is also in the process of raising funds for the launch of their first digital issue, which is coming this fall. You can purchase items from their online store here, and help out!

And if you are a young woman at least 16 years old, Pursue is still looking for writers. You can write guest posts, or send in an article and request to be a regular contributor. Come be part of the Pursue community!

And that concludes my announcement! :D

I'll be posting a few more times than just Tuesday this week, so stay tuned.

So how was your Easter? Did you get snow, too? Are you going to check out Pursue? Going to consider becoming a writer for them??? 

- Maddie

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Put Yourself Down

I've been noticing a lot lately (I feel like I should have just named this blog that - What Maddie Noticed and/or Has Been Thinking About; Updated Bi-weekly) that people I care about have not been giving themselves enough credit for their talents or for their virtues. In fact, they sometimes say that they're really bad at something when I see that they are actually really good at it. And I just have one question:


I know we're supposed to be humble, but in my opinion, there is a certain distinction between what is humility and what is taking it too far. God doesn't want us to put ourselves down. Of course, we shouldn't go around bragging and always talking and acting in a way that says, "Look at how great I am at this!", either. On the other hand, I don't believe that we should always bring up the subject of how bad we are at something, or how everyone else is better than we are at it.

Here's why.

1) It makes your friends sad that you never accept what they say.They're trying to be nice and tell you what they love about you, and you are constantly shooting their compliments down with your own reasons of why they shouldn't feel that way. It's not nice to your friends or to yourself.

2) It makes you look like you want people to counter your statement.When you say, "I know I'm a really selfish person," even though people are always telling you that they think you have a gift for being unselfish, it makes the person you are talking to think, "Gosh, here he/she goes again. I've already told him/her that I've seen him/her be a very unselfish person, and that he's/she's a great example of it to me, so what more can I say? On the other hand, if I don't say anything, he'll/she'll think that I agree with him/her, and that's not true..." It makes the other person uncomfortable. It makes them struggle.

“Mary Jane she set at the head of the table, with Susan alongside of her, and said how bad the biscuits was, and how mean the preserves was, and how ornery and tough the fried chickens was—and all that kind of rot, the way women always do for to force out compliments; and the people all knowed everything was tiptop, and said so—said 'How do you get biscuits to brown so nice?' and 'Where, for the land's sake, did you get these amaz'n pickles?' and all that kind of humbug talky-talk, just the way people always does at a supper, you know.” - Huckleberry Finn

3) It's not going to make you feel more humble. If you're doing it because you're proud, and you want to deny compliments because you think it'll make you feel more humble, you need to stop and go about it a different way. I remember a homily from a priest a very long time ago about what true humility is. He said that instead of saying, "Not me, not me, not me," when people give you praise or pay you a compliment, you should simply say, "Thank you," and nothing more. If you are constantly arguing that what they are telling you isn't true, they are going to keep repeating themselves over and over. And you are going to keep hearing it, and it will actually boost your pride instead of lessening it. Has anyone ever paid you a compliment only to accept when you say it's not true because X Y & Z?

"You have a beautiful singing voice."

"Oh, thanks, but I think it's pretty terrible."

"Really? Okay, then."

Has that conversation ever occurred? I can't imagine it has.

Or instead, you can direct the Praise to God. I can't find the exact quote, and I can't even be sure if St Francis De Sales is the particular saint who said it, but I'm pretty sure it was he who said that if you WANT people to praise you, and want to STOP feeling that way because you know it's not right, you should direct the praise to God every time you receive praise, and the actual humility will eventually rub off on you. For instance, you play the piano really well at church one morning and you really want people to come and compliment you on your talent. When they do come to tell you how great you were, even though you wanted the praise, you can say something like, "God gave me the talent." Or, "Thank you. I'm very thankful that God has given me this gift." After practice of this, it will get easier and easier to see that everything you do comes from God and you will want to give him the praise.

4) It gives you a lower image of yourself. Which is not to say that that is all the way bad. A lot of us are too prideful and need to learn to see that we're not as great of a person as we think we are. But we don't want so low of an idea of ourselves where we think that we don't have anything to offer to the world. If we don't love ourselves or appreciate us, how are we going to love and appreciate others?

5) It makes you less likely to share your gift with others. If you keep telling yourself you don't have a certain talent, there's not as great of a chance that you are going to exercise it, and therefore help or inspire others with it. It's kind of like if you have money that God has blessed you with, and you could use it to bless other people. But you've donated to certain causes before and haven't seen a physical impact that your money has made. So you say, "The money coming from me must not be worth very much. It's not making a difference, so why embarrass myself by donating when I'm sure the people I'm giving to roll their eyes when they see that the money is  coming from me? I don't know what else to do with it, but I'm not gonna take a risk by looking foolish." Isn't that ridiculous? Whether you actually see the impact or not, you should know that your money isn't going to waste because it can't be worth less than other people's. The same applies to your talents/gifts.

So there you have it: 5 reasons why it isn't okay to put yourself down. 

Do you agree with me? Does this make sense, or am I just PUTTING YOU DOWN by telling you NOT to put yourself down, in which case, you're going to feel 2 times as put down as you would have before??? Did this post come across as harsh? If it did, then Oh my friends, my friends forgive me! (Yeah, I did just quote Marius Pontmercy. I've been listening to Les Mis, guys).

If you agree and don't feel offended by this post, would you add any more to the list? How often do you find you putting yourself down? Can you name why you do this to yourself? Let us discuss these and related things (or unrelated. It's all cool) in the comments! (And if you need help finding said comments, they're at the bottom of this post). 


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Dreams - MMC (March 7, 2016)

i had it again -
that inspiration, that conviction,
that motivation,
that feeling.

i had the dream again.

where it went i don't know.
i only know that it was here and now
i can't find it though i want it more than before.

why does fear come crawling and steal your resolve
just when you thought to use it?
life isn't fair -
so say others.
but i can't help but wonder if
we can work around it.

can you do what you would when you had the courage
even if you don't now have it?
i believe that when you feel the least compelled to do something
knowing it is right
that is when you should the most.

deciding something is not really doing it.
when is someone more fulfilled:
when thinking
on something or
on carrying through
with it?

do the poets conjure
or the inventors dream?
does the actor simply feel
or the pastor only contemplate?

i won't have the dream.
not any longer.
instead of closing my eyes in my room and seeing it happen
i'll keep my eyes open and walk through the door
and go see the change i've been hoping will come.

because by God's grace, i'll do it.

I used the sentence prompt. And guys, seriously, Monday's Minutes Challenges are really fun! You should join

Hope you guys are having a great week! Anything new happening?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Love of Life

As you might remember, my sister Meredith and I were very privileged to participate in The March For Life this year. And, yes, we survived Snowmeggadon! It was the first time we had gone on The March, and the first time we had been to D.C., and it will be all the more memorable because of the great blizzard of '16 :)

But I want to talk about more than just what we did on the trip. I want to talk about something I realized while on it.

During the extra days where we (around 400 people from our diocese) were cooped up in the hotel, trying to come up with things to do to entertain ourselves and trying not to go crazy from boredom, I felt a special connection with everyone when we would all gather in the huge conference room. I'd look around and have this feeling like we were all in this together. Most of us didn't know each other, and it's not like we were braving anything ridiculously crazy. We had a warm place to stay, good food to eat, comfortable rooms to hang out in, etc. But I felt like I could have looked at any of the people in the room and asked, "How are you doing with the circumstances?" whereas, if we hadn't been stuck in a blizzard, I wouldn't have felt like I could really relate to them as well.

The priests who were with us said over and over in their homilies that we were each there for a reason. And sitting in a big room crowded with kids, it came to me. I didn't know exactly how to put it into words until we arrived back home, but the feeling was there.

I realized during the course of our pilgrimage that each individual life matters.

I'm almost an adult, and I'm just now figuring that out.

It's not like I hadn't heard that or didn't know that before. It's that I never quite understood exactly what it meant until now.

We encourage mothers to choose life instead of having an abortion, because "God has a plan for the baby's and the mother's lives." But before this trip, it hadn't really occurred to me how true that really is. I finally realized that the mother and father didn't just create their baby. God really does want the mother to give birth to her child, because without Him there wouldn't have been a baby in the first place.

See, before my epiphany, I had had it somewhere in the back of my mind that God sort of sighed when He looked down and saw a young, unmarried mother and thought, "Ugh, time to do my part and give this baby's body a soul, I guess."

But no.

Life is beautiful and sacred and holy, because God decides when and who to allow to become pregnant with a soul that He has designed.

via Pinterest

He is teaching me that. I am beginning to feel a brotherly bond with people I never would have thought I would, and I know that it is more than just me trying to feel that way, because I know most of those people don't feel the same way towards me. I see the bad kid whose future as a saint doesn't look too bright as of this moment, and the annoying, pretty girl who always looks and acts perfect, and I have hope for them, because I know that God was thinking when He created them. For a reason that is known probably to God alone, we were put in each other's lives for some specific purpose. There's a reason why my friends were born in this age, and not 50 years ago; the people who I don't particularly get along with were also meant to live in this time and not 200 years in the future.

It's easy to get caught up in me, me, me. I've always known that God loves me and that He has a plan for me. But He's now making me see that He loves everyone around me too, and has had a plan for them from the time they were formed in the womb, as well. And not just "Everyone". I mean, yes, it is everyone, but that word is so... unpersonal. When you think, "God loves everyone," it's easy enough, right? But when you think, "God loves [insert name of someone who is rude to you]," you feel a small lurch in your stomach and a little hint of a doubt. A "That didn't seem all the way right," kind of feeling. But it is true, and it is absolutely right. God has a plan for each and every one of us, and loves that person just as much as He loves you. Not because it's just what He does. It's because He fashioned them with the same love in His heart that He had when He fashioned you. As one of my youth group leaders said, "Remember that everyone is good. I know that because God made them. And He is good. There is no evil person. There are good people who do bad things."

I'm praying that God, the Father Who loves me and you, will help all of us realize what part we are supposed to play in the lives of those we meet.

via PopeQuotes

via Pinterest

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tricked - MMC (February 22, 2016)

"You seem tense this evenin', sir. Beg your pardon for sayin' so." Abigail curtsied, and was careful not to let her tray overturn.

"Oh, I don't mind. I know it rather well myself." The old man sighed, rubbing his neck. He took the wine that she offered. “I’ve not seen you before.”

"My name's Abigail Brightly, sir. New around here."

The gentleman set his empty glass back on her tray, looking thoughtful. "I... have a niece named Abigail Brenton. Strange, isn't it? You've the same initials. Though... who can say how long since I’ve seen her? She asked to come a few months back, so as to attend the party this evening. But I...." His brow furrowed. Giving a nervous chuckle, he shook his head. "Go along, now, and attend to the guests."

She had not been elsewhere very long before a cry went up and a crowd began to gather. "Lord Brenton is ill!"

A panic went up in the girl's heart. "How is he? What is wrong?" Her servant's speech was gone.

"Poison," a man told her, his face red with shock and anger. His eyes shifted to the tray of empty wine glasses in the servant's hands. In the next instant, he pulled her to the dying patient.

Though his vision was darkening, Lord Brenton testified at once on seeing the servant girl's face, "Yes. She… my... wine..."

Abigail's eyes grew large as she cried, "Uncle! I’m Abigail, your niece, Abigail. I just wanted to see you! I'm so sorry, I don't know how..."

Her tray was wrenched away to be examined. Traces of arsenic were found in the lord's cup.

Though she tried to explain, no one would listen. Whoever poisoned him had just gotten rid of two nobles in the family.

Wow, that took forever to cut down! It's 296 words, and I used the picture prompt. I realize now that a better title would have been "Framed," but I already made the picture, so... yeah. "Tricked" it will stay.

Also, I won 2nd place last week! :D

Head over to Christ Is Write to join in the fun!

Oh, yeah. Also, guys, I'm going to be posting every Tuesday now. Ideally, it will be a Monday's Minute entry one week, and then a post that I'll... make up? the next week. Sound good? Okay, great. Have a great week, everyone!

auf wiedersehen, darling